Live imaging of astrocyte responses to acute injury reveals selective juxtavascular proliferation

Nat Neurosci. 2013 May;16(5):580-6. doi: 10.1038/nn.3371. Epub 2013 Mar 31.


Astrocytes are thought to have important roles after brain injury, but their behavior has largely been inferred from postmortem analysis. To examine the mechanisms that recruit astrocytes to sites of injury, we used in vivo two-photon laser-scanning microscopy to follow the response of GFP-labeled astrocytes in the adult mouse cerebral cortex over several weeks after acute injury. Live imaging revealed a marked heterogeneity in the reaction of individual astrocytes, with one subset retaining their initial morphology, another directing their processes toward the lesion, and a distinct subset located at juxtavascular sites proliferating. Although no astrocytes actively migrated toward the injury site, selective proliferation of juxtavascular astrocytes was observed after the introduction of a lesion and was still the case, even though the extent was reduced, after astrocyte-specific deletion of the RhoGTPase Cdc42. Thus, astrocyte recruitment after injury relies solely on proliferation in a specific niche.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 Family
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Blood Vessels / pathology*
  • Blood Vessels / ultrastructure
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1 / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Retinal Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / genetics


  • CAPS protein, Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Isoenzymes
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Slc1a3 protein, mouse
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 Family
  • ALDH1A1 protein, mouse
  • Retinal Dehydrogenase
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein