There is growing appreciation for astrocyte heterogeneity both across and within central nervous system (CNS) regions, as well as between intact and diseased states. Recent work identified multiple astrocyte subpopulations in mature brain. Interestingly, one subpopulation (Population C) was shown to possess significantly enhanced synaptogenic properties in vitro, as compared with other astrocyte subpopulations of adult cortex and spinal cord. Following spinal cord injury (SCI), damaged neurons lose synaptic connections with neuronal partners, resulting in persistent functional loss. We determined whether SCI induces an enhanced synaptomodulatory astrocyte phenotype by shifting toward a greater proportion of Population C cells and/or increasing expression of relevant synapse formation-associated genes within one or more astrocyte subpopulations. Using flow cytometry and RNAscope in situ hybridization, we found that astrocyte subpopulation distribution in the spinal cord did not change to a selectively synaptogenic phenotype following mouse cervical hemisection-type SCI. We also found that spinal cord astrocytes expressed synapse formation-associated genes to a similar degree across subpopulations, as well as in an unchanged manner between uninjured and SCI conditions. Finally, we confirmed these astrocyte subpopulations are also present in the human spinal cord in a similar distribution as mouse, suggesting possible conservation of spinal cord astrocyte heterogeneity across species.
Allahyari, R Vivian; Heinsinger, Nicolette M; Hwang, Daniel; Jaffe, David A; Rasouli, Javad; Shiers, Stephanie; Thomas, Samantha J; Price, Theodore J; Rostami, Abdolmohamad; and Lepore, Angelo C, "Response of Astrocyte Subpopulations Following Spinal Cord Injury." (2022). Farber Institute for Neurosciences Faculty Papers. Paper 42.
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