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Glia. 1990;3(4):283-92.

Developing forebrain astrocytes are sensitive to thyroid hormone.

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Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


Previous studies have shown that developing neurons of the basal forebrain and hippocampus are sensitive to thyroid hormone (Gould and Butcher: J. Neurosci., 9:3347-3358, 1989; Rami et al: Neuroscience, 19:1217-1226, 1986). In order to determine whether or not thyroid hormone influences the development of astrocytes in brain regions where neurons are affected, we performed vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunocytochemical and single-section Golgi-impregnation analyses on the basal forebrain and hippocampus of control and neonatally thyroid hormone treated rats. For purposes of comparison, glial cells of the pontomesencephalotegmental (PMT) region, a region where developing neurons are not morphologically affected by thyroid hormone imbalances (Gould and Butcher, op. cit.), were also examined. Neonatal thyroid hormone treatment resulted in a premature disappearance of vimentin-immunoreactive radial glia in the basal forebrain and hippocampus. In addition, a premature appearance of GFAP-immunoreactive astrocytes with mature morphological characteristics was observed in the basal forebrain and hippocampus of thyroid hormone treated animals. Quantitative analyses revealed significant increases in the density of GFAP-immunostained astrocytes and in the cross-sectional cell body area and the number of primary processes in Golgi-impregnated astrocytes of the basal forebrain and hippocampus of animals treated neonatally with thyroid hormone. In contrast, no changes in any of these parameters were observed in glial cells of the PMT region with neonatal thyroid hormone treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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