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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46731. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046731. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Time course, distribution and cell types of induction of transforming growth factor betas following middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat brain.

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Neuromorphological and Neuroendocrine Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Semmelweis University and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.


Transforming growth factor-βs (TGF-β1-3) are cytokines that regulate the proliferation, differentiation, and survival of various cell types. The present study describes the induction of TGF-β1-3 in the rat after focal ischemia at 3 h, 24 h, 72 h and 1 month after transient (1 h) or permanent (24 h) middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) using in situ hybridization histochemistry and quantitative analysis. Double labeling with different markers was used to identify the localization of TGF-β mRNA relative to the penumbra and glial scar, and the types of cells expressing TGF-βs. TGF-β1 expression increased 3 h after MCAO in the penumbra and was further elevated 24 h after MCAO. TGF-β1 was present mostly in microglial cells but also in some astrocytes. By 72 h and 1 month after the occlusion, TGF-β1 mRNA-expressing cells also appeared in microglia within the ischemic core and in the glial scar. In contrast, TGF-β2 mRNA level was increased in neurons but not in astrocytes or microglial cells in layers II, III, and V of the ipsilateral cerebral cortex 24 h after MCAO. TGF-β3 was not induced in cells around the penumbra. Its expression increased in only a few cells in layer II of the cerebral cortex 24 h after MCAO. The levels of TGF-β2 and -β3 decreased at subsequent time points. Permanent MCAO further elevated the levels of all 3 subtypes of TGF-βs suggesting that reperfusion is not a major factor in their induction. TGF-β1 did not co-localize with either Fos or ATF-3, while the co-localization of TGF-β2 with Fos but not with ATF-3 suggests that cortical spreading depolarization, but not damage to neural processes, might be the mechanism of induction for TGF-β2. The results imply that endogenous TGF-βs are induced by different mechanisms following an ischemic attack in the brain suggesting that they are involved in distinct spatially and temporally regulated inflammatory and neuroprotective processes.

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