Quantification of neurodegeneration by measurement of brain-specific proteins

J Neuroimmunol. 2003 May;138(1-2):45-8. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5728(03)00092-4.


Quantification of neurodegeneration in animal models is typically assessed by time-consuming and observer-dependent immunocytochemistry. This study aimed to investigate if newly developed ELISA techniques could provide an observer-independent, cost-effective and time-saving tool for this purpose. Neurofilament heavy chain (NfH(SM135)), astrocytic glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S100B and ferritin, markers of axonal loss, gliosis, astrocyte activation and microglial activation, respectively, were quantified in the spinal cord homogenates of mice with chronic relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (CREAE, n=8) and controls (n=7). Levels of GFAP were found to be threefold elevated in CREAE (13 ng/mg protein) when compared to control animals (4.5 ng/mg protein, p<0.001). The inverse was observed for NfH(SM135) (21 ng/mg protein vs. 63 ng/mg protein, p<0.001), ferritin (542 ng/mg protein vs. 858 ng/mg protein, p<0.001) and S100B (786 ng/mg protein vs. 2080 ng/mg protein, N.S.). These findings were confirmed by immunocytochemistry, which demonstrated intense staining for GFAP and decreased staining for NfH(SM135) in CREAE compared to control animals. These findings indicate that axonal loss and gliosis can be estimated biochemically using the newly developed ELISA assays for NfH(SM135) and GFAP. These assays may facilitate the quantification of pathological features involved in neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Female
  • Ferritins / analysis
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Gliosis / metabolism
  • Gliosis / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Biozzi
  • Nerve Growth Factors / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / analysis
  • Organ Specificity
  • Recurrence
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins / analysis
  • Spinal Cord / chemistry


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins
  • S100b protein, mouse
  • neurofilament protein H
  • Ferritins