The data herein demonstrate that in addition to the well-characterized myelin marker-positive, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-negative, membrane sheet-bearing oligodendrocytes, another type of myelin marker-positive, process-bearing glia exists in normal and pathologic conditions. This second type of myelin marker-positive glia expresses GFAP, and therefore these cells have been referred to as mixed phenotype glia. Although mixed phenotype glia have been documented previously, their identity and function have remained a mystery. The goal of this immunocytochemical study was to further characterize these cells. Using the MBPlacZ transgenic mouse in which beta-galactosidase is under the control of the myelin basic protein (MBP) gene promoter, GFAP-positive/beta-galactosidase-positive and myelin/oligodendrocyte-specific protein (MOSP)-positive/beta-galactosidase-positive cells were detected in subcortical white matter and in perivascular locations within cerebral white and gray matter. In cultures prepared from highly enriched myelin marker-positive immature glia, mixed phenotype glia were detected that were GFAP-positive and either MOSP-, MBP-, O1-, and O4-positive. The expression of multiple myelin markers by mixed phenotype glia may suggest that these cells are of oligodendrocyte origin. Increased numbers of MOSP-positive/GFAP-positive mixed phenotype glia were detected in sections from adult hypomyelinated brain from shiverer, quaking, and PKU mice compared to myelinated control adult mouse brain. Similarly, cultures from control brain exposed to elevated pH for 2-3 weeks showed dramatically increased numbers of mixed phenotype glia (80%) compared to control (<10%). Increased numbers of mixed phenotype glia also were detected in shiverer cultures (40%). Since increases in the number of mixed phenotype glia occur in shiverer, quaking, and PKU mouse brain, these data suggest that mixed phenotype glia contribute to gliosis in pathologic white matter.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.