Document Type





Reactive gliosis has the potential to alter biomechanical properties of the brain, impede neuronal regeneration and affect plasticity. Determining the onset and progression of reactive astrogliosis and microgliosis due to hydrocephalus is important for designing better clinical treatments.


Reactive astrogliosis and microgliosis were evaluated as the severity of hydrocephalus increased with age in hydrocephalic H-Tx rats and control littermates. Previous studies have suggested that gliosis may persist after short-term drainage (shunt treatment) of the cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore shunts were placed in 15d hydrocephalic rats that were sacrificed after 6d (21d of age) or after 21d (36d of age). Tissue was processed for Western blot procedures and immunohistochemistry, and probed for the astrocytic protein, Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) and for microglial protein, Isolectin B4 (ILB4).


In the parietal cortex of untreated hydrocephalic animals, GFAP levels increased significantly at 5d and at 12d compared to age-matched control rats. There was a continued increase in GFAP levels over control at 21d and at 36d. Shunting prevented some of the increase in GFAP levels in the parietal cortex. In the occipital cortex of untreated hydrocephalic animals, there was a significant increase over control in levels of GFAP at 5d. This trend continued in the 12d animals, although not significantly. Significant increases in GFAP levels were present in 21d and in 36d animals. Shunting significantly reduced GFAP levels in the 36d shunted group. Quantitative grading of immuno-stained sections showed similar changes in GFAP stained astrocytes.

Immuno-stained microglia were altered in shape in hydrocephalic animals. At 5d and 12d, they appeared to be developmentally delayed with a lack of processes. Older 21d and 36d hydrocephalic animals exhibited the characteristics of activated microglia, with thicker processes and enlarged cell bodies. Following shunting, fewer activated microglia were present.

Histologic examination of the periventricular area and the periaqueductal area showed similar findings with the 21d and 36d animals having increased populations of both astrocytes and microglia which were reduced following shunting with a more dramatic reduction in the long term shunted animals.


Overall, these results suggest that reactive astrocytosis and microgliosis are associated with progressive untreated ventriculomegaly, but that shunt treatment can reduce the gliosis occurring with hydrocephalus.


Neurology | Surgery