Brains from human neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients show increased expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), consistent with activation of astrocytes (M.L. Nordlund, T.A. Rizvi, C.I. Brannan, N. Ratner, Neurofibromin expression and astrogliosis in neurofibromatosis (type 1) brains, J. Neuropathol. Exp. Neurology 54 (1995) 588-600). We analyzed brains from transgenic mice in which the Nf1 gene was targeted by homologous recombination. We show here that, in all heterozygous mice analyzed, there are increased numbers of astrocytes expressing high levels of GFAP in medial regions of the periaqueductal gray and in the nucleus accumbens. More subtle, but significant, changes in the number of GFAP positive astrocytes were observed in the hippocampus in 60% of mutant mice analyzed. Astrocytes with elevated GFAP were present at 1 month, 2 months, 6 months and 12 months after birth. Most brain regions, including the cerebellum, basal ganglia, cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, thalamus, cortical amygdaloid area, and white matter tracts did not show any gliotic changes. No evidence of degenerating neurons was found using de Olmos' cupric silver stain. We conclude that Nf1/nf1 mice provide a model to study astrogliosis associated with neurofibromatosis type 1.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.