NG2 cells are an abundant glial cell type in the adult brain. They are distinct from astrocytes, mature oligodendrocytes, and microglia. NG2 cells generate oligodendrocytes and a subpopulation of protoplasmic astrocytes in the ventral forebrain during development. To determine whether NG2 cells generate reactive astrocytes in the lesioned brain, stab wound injury was created in adult NG2creBAC:ZEG double transgenic mice, in which enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) is expressed in NG2 cells and their progeny, and the phenotype of the EGFP+ cells was analyzed at 10 and 30 days post lesion (dpl). The majority (>90%) of the reactive astrocytes surrounding the lesion that expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) lacked EGFP expression, and conversely the majority (>90%) of EGFP+ cells were GFAP-negative. However, 8% of EGFP+ cells co-expressed GFAP at 10 dpl. Most of these EGFP+GFAP+ cells were morphologically distinct from hypertrophic reactive astrocytes and exhibited weak GFAP expression. NG2 was detected in a fraction of the EGFP+GFAP+ cells found at 10 dpl. By 30 dpl the number of EGFP+GFAP+ cells had decreased more than four-fold from 10 dpl. A similar transient appearance of EGFP+GFAP+ cells with simple morphology was observed in NG2creER™:ZEG double transgenic mice in which EGFP expression had been induced in NG2 cells prior to injury. NG2 cell-specific deletion of the oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor Olig2 using NG2creER™:Olig2fl/fl:ZEG triple transgenic mice did not increase the number of EGFP+ reactive astrocytes. These findings suggest that NG2 cells are not a major source of reactive astrocytes in the neocortex.
- Reactive astrocyte
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience