Rapid astrocyte and microglial activation following pilocarpine-induced seizures in rats

Epilepsia. 2008:49 Suppl 2:33-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01491.x.


Astrocyte and microglial activation occurs following seizures and plays a role in epileptogenesis. However, the precise temporal and spatial response to seizures has not been fully examined. The pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy was selected to examine glial changes following seizures because morphological changes in the hippocampus closely mimic the human condition. Astrocytic and microglial changes in the hippocampus were examined during the first 5 days after pilocarpine-induced seizures in rats by analyzing GFAP, Iba1 and S100B-immunolabeling in CA1, CA3, and the hilus. Also, 3-dimensional reconstructions of microglial cells from the hilus and granule cell layer were analyzed. Lastly, astrocyte hypertrophy was examined in the hilus using electron microscopy. At 1 day after seizures and continuing throughout the 5 days examined, hypertrophied Iba1-labeled microglial cells and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-labeled astrocytes were observed. At 1 and 2 days after seizures, significantly greater Iba1 immunolabeling was observed in CA1, CA3, and the hilus. In addition, both the area of Iba1 labeled processes and the number of their endings were increased in the hilus beginning at 1 day after seizures. S100B-immunolabeling was significantly elevated in CA3 at 1 day, in CA3 and CA1 at 2 days, and in all three hippocampal regions at 3 days after seizures. Electron microscopy confirmed astrocytic hypertrophy and demonstrated astrocytic cell bodies in the location where glial endfeet normally appear on capillaries. The differential response patterns of astrocytes and microglial cells following pilocarpine-induced seizures may signify their detrimental role in neuroinflammation after seizures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / chemically induced*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Hypertrophy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Microglia / physiology
  • Pilocarpine*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Aif1 protein, rat
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Pilocarpine