Radiation-induced astrocytic and microglial responses in mouse brain

Radiother Oncol. 1993 Oct;29(1):60-8. doi: 10.1016/0167-8140(93)90174-7.


The aim of this study was to investigate the responses of astrocytes and microglia to whole brain irradiation. Levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which is a marker for astrocytes, were measured by ELISA in irradiated brains taken at varying time points after irradiation. GFAP levels were increased between 120 and 180 days after single doses of 20-45 Gy radiation, but not after lower doses (2 or 8 Gy). The increases in GFAP levels were confirmed by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining which showed that the number of GFAP-positive astrocytes was increased, as was their staining intensity. Coincidently with the increase in astrocyte staining, there was an increase in the number and the intensity of microglial cell staining for Mac I antigen. Autoradiography of brain tissue following in vivo administration of [3H]thymidine showed an increased number of labelled cells during the same time period. The radiation-induced astrocytic and microglial responses that follows brain irradiation is indicative of reactive gliosis and inflammation occurring during the latent period up to the onset of late radiation-induced injury. This gliosis increases with radiation dose. The possibility that gliosis may participate in modifying postirradiation injury in the brain is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / immunology
  • Astrocytes / radiation effects*
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / analysis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / radiation effects*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen