Expression of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein and Neurofilament mRNA in Gliosis Induced by Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis

Dennis A. Aquino, Bridget Shafit‐Zagardo, Celia F. Brosnan, William T. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We have previously shown that the content of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) gradually increases in the spinal cord of Lewis rats with acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), reaching a level 1.5–2 times greater than that in controls by 35 days postimmunization (dpi). We report here that the increase in GFAP mRNA level followed a completely different time course and reached higher levels relative to controls than did that of the protein. Total RNA was isolated using a modified version of current methods using phenol/chloroform extractions to ensure optimal recovery from spinal cord. Control animals yielded 323 ± 35 μg (mean ± SD; n = 34) of total RNA/spinal cord throughout the experimental period. EAE animals contained up to three times as much total RNA during 11–14 dpi, a finding largely reflecting the infiltration of inflammatory cells. By 65 dpi, total RNA levels closely approached control values. As early as 10 dpi, increased amounts of GFAP mRNA were detected in EAE animals relative to controls. During 11–14 dpi, GFAP mRNA levels reached six‐ to eightfold greater than values in controls and then slowly declined throughout the remainder of the time course, with a fourfold increase still detected at 65 dpi. However, coinciding with the height of inflammation and clinical signs at 12 dpi, the GFAP mRNA content dropped to ∼50% of the level at 11 dpi but rose again at 13 dpi. This dip was mirrored by a similar decrease in neurofilament mRNA content, but otherwise the level of this message remained relatively constant and equal to that in controls. The changes in GFAP message content contrasted sharply with those in protein content, which increases slowly and does not reach maximal levels until after 4 weeks. Elevated levels of GFAP mRNA, protein, and immunostaining persisted through 65 dpi, >40 days after clinical signs had resolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1404
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1990


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Inflammatory demyelination
  • RNA isolation
  • Reactive astrocyte
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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