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Electrophysiologically “complex” glial cells freshly isolated from the hippocampus are immunopositive for the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan NG2



We have recently described a subgroup of isolated glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive (GFAP+) hippocampal astrocytes that predominantly express outwardly rectifying currents (which we term “ORAs” for outwardly rectifying astrocytes), which are similar to the currents already described for hippocampal GFAP “complex glia.” We now report that post-recording staining of cells that were first selected as “complex” by morphology and then confirmed by their electrophysiological characteristics were NG2+ ∼90% of the time. Also, the morphology of freshly isolated NG2+ cells differs from that of isolated GFAP+ ORAs in having a smaller and round cell body with thinner processes, which usually are collapsed back onto the soma. Upon detailed examination, NG2+ cells were found to differ quantitatively in some electrophysiological characteristics from GFAP+ ORAs. The outward, transient K+ currents (IKa) in the NG2+ cells showed a slower decay than the IKa in ORAs, and their density decreased in NG2+ cells from older animals. The other two major cation currents, the voltage-activated Na+ and outwardly delayed rectifier K+ currents, were similar in NG2+ cells and ORAs. To further distinguish isolated complex cells from outwardly rectifying GFAP+ astrocytes, we performed immunocytochemistry for glial markers in fixed, freshly isolated rat hippocampal glia. NG2+ cells were negative for GFAP and also for the astrocytic glutamate transporters GLT-1 and GLAST. Thus the isolated hippocampal NG2+ glial cells, though having an electrophysiological phenotype similar to that of ORAs, are an immunologically and morphologically distinct glial cell population and most likely represent NG2+ cells in situ. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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