Expression of vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein in the developing rat spinal cord: An immunocytochemical study of the spinal cord glial system

M. Oudega, E. Marani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The glial system in the developing rat spinal cord was studied using immunocytochemistry. Antibodies to vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were used. At E 11, vimentin was first found in the membrana limitans externa. In the matrix layer, short vimentin protrusions were found near the membrana limitans externa at E12. In addition, vimentin was scattered throughout the matrix layer, where it was also present as vimentin-positive tangles. Later in development, vimentin immunoreactivity was distributed in a distinct radial pattern in the matrix layer. During the first postnatal weeks, vimentin was replaced by GFAP which is therefore expressed in a similar radial pattern. This orderly structural organisation of vimentin and GFAP in the matrix layer could indicate the involvement of both proteins in morphogenetic processes such as neuron migration and cell organisation. In the mantle layer, a distinct radial vimentin immunoreactivity was replaced by GFAP immunoreactivity during the first 2 postnatal weeks. In addition, GFAP fibres appeared first, at E18, in the ventral mantle layer associated with the motor neuron columns. These glial fibres originated from a local source. In the dorsal mantle layer, GFAP-positive fibres were oriented tangentially, which is different from the overall radial arrangement. This expression pattern may be related to the ingrowth of primary afferents. In the ventral and dorsal raphe, a major vimentin expression was replaced by a minor presence of GFAP. Within the white matter, a vimentin-positive radial pattern was demonstrated which, after birth, was replaced by GFAP. This palisading pattern suggested an involvement of both proteins in the development and guidance of the ascending and descending spinal cord fibre systems. The general transition from the expression of vimentin to the expression of GFAP in the rat spinal cord takes place during the first 3 postnatal weeks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Anatomy
StatePublished - Dec 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein in the developing rat spinal cord: An immunocytochemical study of the spinal cord glial system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this