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BMC Neurosci. 2007 Jan 2;8:2.

Evidence for a wide extra-astrocytic distribution of S100B in human brain.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Magdeburg, Leipziger Str, 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany.



S100B is considered an astrocytic in-situ marker and protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or serum are often used as biomarker for astrocytic damage or dysfunction. However, studies on S100B in the human brain are rare. Thus, the distribution of S100B was studied by immunohistochemistry in adult human brains to evaluate its cell-type specificity.


Contrary to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which selectively labels astrocytes and shows only faint ependymal immunopositivity, a less uniform staining pattern was seen in the case of S100B. Cells with astrocytic morphology were primarily stained by S100B in the human cortex, while only 20% (14-30%) or 14% (7-35%) of all immunopositive cells showed oligodendrocytic morphology in the dorsolateral prefrontal and temporal cortices, respectively. In the white matter, however, most immunostained cells resembled oligodendrocytes [frontal: 75% (57-85%); temporal: 73% (59-87%); parietal: 79% (62-89%); corpus callosum: 93% (86-97%)]. S100B was also found in ependymal cells, the choroid plexus epithelium, vascular endothelial cells, lymphocytes, and several neurones. Anti-myelin basic protein (MBP) immunolabelling showed an association of S100B with myelinated fibres, whereas GFAP double staining revealed a distinct subpopulation of cells with astrocytic morphology, which solely expressed S100B but not GFAP. Some of these cells showed co-localization of S100B and A2B5 and may be characterized as O2A glial progenitor cells. However, S100B was not detected in microglial cells, as revealed by double-immunolabelling with HLA-DR.


S100B is localized in many neural cell-types and is less astrocyte-specific than GFAP. These are important results in order to avoid misinterpretation in the identification of normal and pathological cell types in situ and in clinical studies since S100B is continuously used as an astrocytic marker in animal models and various human diseases.

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