The two patterns of reactive astrocytosis in postischemic rat brain

Carol K. Petito, Susan Morgello, Juan C. Felix, Martin L. Lesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

313 Scopus citations


The distribution and time course of postischemic astrocyte hypertrophy and hyperplasia and the relationship to neuronal viability or necrosis was studied in rats subjected to 30 min of carotid and vertebral artery occlusion followed by reperfusion from 3 h to 5 weeks. Intermediate filaments (IFs) were evaluated by electron microscopy, IF proteins by immunohistochemistry, and astrocyte division by [3H]thymidine uptake. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) increased in damaged and nondamaged brain regions by 2 days and was associated with cell enlargement, increases in IF, and transformation of GFAP-negative into GFAP-positive glia. Cell hypertrophy and increased GFAP persisted only in regions of neuronal necrosis whereas the number and size of GFAP-positive astrocytes returned to control levels in nondamaged regions by 2 weeks. Astrocyte hyperplasia was not seen until 3 days and was confined to damaged brain regions. Vimentin-positive astrocytes were numerous by 2 days in damaged brain and remained only in those regions at 5 weeks. The data demonstrate that reactive astrocytosis develops in undamaged brain, but is reversible with prolonged survival, whereas reactive astrocytosis that accompanies structural brain damage persists for prolonged periods and is associated with hyperplasia, as well as hypertrophy. In addition, the results show that astrocyte expression of vimentin is more specific than GFAP in identifying regions of permanent ischemic injury during the early postischemic period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-859
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocyte
  • Autoradiography
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Electron microscopy
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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