A spatiotemporal study of gliosis in relation to depth electrode tracks in drug-resistant epilepsy

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Abstract

Key questions remain regarding the processes governing gliogenesis following central nervous system injury that are critical to understanding both beneficial brain repair mechanisms and any long-term detrimental effects, including increased risk of seizures. We have used cortical injury produced by intracranial electrodes (ICEs) to study the time-course and localization of gliosis and gliogenesis in surgically resected human brain tissue. Seventeen cases with ICE injuries of 4–301 days age were selected. Double-labelled immunolabelling using a proliferative cell marker (MCM2), markers of fate-specific transcriptional factors (PAX6, SOX2), a microglial marker (IBA1) and glial markers (nestin, GFAP) was quantified in three regions: zone 1 (immediate vicinity: 0–350 μm), zone 2 (350–700 μm) and zone 3 (remote ≥2000 μm) in relation to the ICE injury site. Microglial/macrophage cell densities peaked at 28–30 days post-injury (dpi) with a significant decline in proliferating microglia with dpi in all zones. Nestin-expressing cells (NECs) were concentrated in zones 1 and 2, showed the highest regenerative capacity (MCM2 and PAX6 co-expression) and were intimately associated with capillaries within the organizing injury cavity. There was a significant decline in nestin/MCM2 co-expressing cells with dpi in zones 1 and 2. Nestin-positive fibres remained in the chronic scar, and NECs with neuronal morphology were noted in older injuries. GFAP-expressing glia were more evenly distributed between zones, with no significant decline in density or proliferative capacity with dpi. Colocalization between nestin and GFAP in zone 1 glial cells decreased with increasing dpi. In conclusion, NECs at acute injury sites are a proliferative, transient cell population with capacity for maturation into astrocytes with possible neuronal differentiation observed in older injuries.

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