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Neuron. 1999 Jun;23(2):297-308.

Leukocyte infiltration, neuronal degeneration, and neurite outgrowth after ablation of scar-forming, reactive astrocytes in adult transgenic mice.

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Medical Research Council Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, and Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Reactive astrocytes adjacent to a forebrain stab injury were selectively ablated in adult mice expressing HSV-TK from the Gfap promoter by treatment with ganciclovir. Injured tissue that was depleted of GFAP-positive astrocytes exhibited (1) a prolonged 25-fold increase in infiltration of CD45-positive leukocytes, including ultrastructurally identified monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes, (2) failure of blood-brain barrier (BBB) repair, (3) substantial neuronal degeneration that could be attenuated by chronic glutamate receptor blockade, and (4) a pronounced increase in local neurite outgrowth. These findings show that genetic targeting can be used to ablate scar-forming astrocytes and demonstrate roles for astrocytes in regulating leukocyte trafficking, repairing the BBB, protecting neurons, and restricting nerve fiber growth after injury in the adult central nervous system.

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