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J Neuroimmunol. 2005 Dec 30;170(1-2):115-21. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Expression of gangliosides on glial and neuronal cells in normal and pathological adult human brain.

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Section of Neurology, Department of Neurological Sciences and Vision, University of Verona, Ospedale Policlinico G.B. Rossi, P.le Scuro, 37134 Verona, Italy.


Few studies have assessed the glycolipid phenotype of glial cells in the human central nervous system (CNS) in situ. We investigated by immunohistochemistry the expression and cellular distribution of a panel of gangliosides (GM1, GM2, acetyl-GM3, GD1a, GD1b, GD2, GD3, GT1b, GQ1b and the A2B5 antibody) in adult, human normal and pathological brain, namely multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological diseases (OND). In normal conditions, we found diffuse expression in the white matter of most gangliosides tested, with the exception of acetyl-GM3, GT1b and GQ1b. By double immunofluorescence with phenotypic markers, GM1 and GD1b were preferentially expressed on GFAP+ astrocytes, GD1a on NG2+ oligodendrocyte precursors, A2B5 immunostained both populations, while GD2 was selectively present on mature oligodendrocytes. In the gray matter, only GM1, GD2 and A2B5 were present on neuronal cells. Interestingly, those gangliosides present on astrocytes in normal conditions were preferentially expressed on NG2+ cells in chronic MS lesions and in OND. Selective expression of GT1b upon astrocytes and NG2+ cells was instead observed in MS lesions, but not in OND. The definition of the glycolipid phenotype of CNS glial cells may be useful to identify distinct biological glial subsets and provide insights on the potential autoantigenic role of gangliosides in CNS autoimmune diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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