The developmental pattern of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-immunoreactive astrocytes was investigated in the hippocampus (subfields CA1, CA3 and CA4) and in the dentate gyrus of male and female rats aged 11, 16, 30, 90 and 150 days by immunohistochemistry associated with image analysis. Analysis was centred on stratum radiatum, a hippocampal area rich in GFAP-immunoreactive astrocytes. The volume of different portions of hippocampus, the number and the size of astrocytes, the intensity of cell body GFAP immunostaining as well as the extension of astrocyte were assessed. A maturation pattern consisting in higher cellular expression of GFAP, an increase in overall cell size and expanding arborisation from the 11th to the 30th postnatal day, followed by stabilisation of these parameters until the 90th day of life, and a subsequent decrease in the oldest age group studied was found. A sex-related different temporal pattern of astrocytes maturation in size and GFAP content was observed in the CA1 subfield only. The increase of GFAP content during pre-weaning ages was less pronounced in females than in males as well as the decrease between the 90th and the 150th day of age. Moreover, the size of astrocytes was larger in females than in males at the 11th and 150th days of life. These findings suggest that hippocampal astrocytes undergo rapid maturation in the 1st month of postnatal life, followed by a slow consolidation of this process until the 3rd month of life. At 5 months of age, there are still dynamic changes in the mature astrocytes, which become slender and thinner probably as a response to the increased volume of hippocampus noticeable at this age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology