Fibroblast growth factor-2 is a pleiotrophic cytokine with neurotrophic and gliogenic properties. It is known to regulate CNS injury responses, which include transformation of reactive astrocytes, neurogenesis, and promotion of neurotrophic activities. In the brain, it is localized in astrocytes and discrete neuronal populations. Following both central and peripheral nervous system injury, astrocytes become reactive. These activated cells undergo hypertrophy. A key indicator of astrocyte activation is the increased accumulation of intermediate filaments composed of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Following physical insult of brain or spinal cord, reactive astrocytes show increased FGF-2 immunoreactivity. Thus, FGF-2 appears to participate in astrocytic differentiation and proliferation and a good candidate for astrocytic function regulation in healthy, injured, or diseased CNS. To further investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying FGF-2 restorative actions and to analyze the changes within astroglial cells, we studied the localization of GFAP and FGF-2 in adult intact and injured Pleurodeles CNS. Our results show that spinal cord injury triggers a significant increase in FGF-2 immunoreactivity in reactive astrocytes at sites of insult. In addition, these results were time-dependent. Increase in FGF-2 immunoreactivity along the CNS axis, starting 1-week post-injury, was long-lasting extending to 6 weeks. This increase was accompanied by an increase in GFAP immunoreactivity in the same spatial pattern except in SC3 where its level was almost similar to sham-operated animals. Therefore, we suggest that FGF-2 may be involved in cell proliferation and/or astroglial cells differentiation after body spinal cord transection, and could thus play an important role in locomotion recovery.
Keywords: Pleurodeles waltlii; fibroblast growth factor-2; nerve regeneration.