• S100;
  • astrocyte;
  • OX-42;
  • microglia;
  • plasticity;
  • visual pathway;
  • lesion


After demonstration of the paracrine action of glial neurotrophic factors, gliosis has also been considered to be related to neuronal trophism and plasticity rather than solely a repair event following brain injury. S100 is a Ca2+binding protein, present mainly in astrocytes, that exerts paracrine trophic effects on several neuronal populations. This study analyses the presence of S100 protein by means of immunohistochemistry combined with stereology in the reactive glial cells of the rat visual pathways following a lesion of the visual cortex. Adult male Wistar rats were submitted to a unilateral aspiration of the occipital cortex or to a sham operation. One week later the rats were killed and their brain processed for immunochemistry. Single antibody immunohistochemistry was performed for the visualization of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP, a marker for astrocytes), OX-42 (a marker for microglia) and S100 protein. Double immunofluorescence procedures were applied for co-localization of the S100/GFAP and S100/OX-42. An optical dissector, point interceptors and rotators were used to quantify the degree of glial activation and the changes in the S100 immunoreactivity. We observed an intense microglial and astroglial reaction in addition to an increased S100 immunoreactivity in the occipital cerebral cortex, geniculate nucleus and hippocampus ipsilateral to the lesion. In the ipsilateral superior colliculus, an intense astroglial activation was accompanied by an up-regulation of S100 immunoreactivity. Double-immunofluoresence revealed an increased S100 immunoreactivity in reactive astrocytes, but not in the reactive microglia. Evidence has therefore been obtained that after mechanical trauma, the astroglial S100 protein participates in the trophism and plasticity of the injured visual pathways.