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J Neurotrauma. 1995 Feb;12(1):53-63.

Altered immunoexpression of microglia and macrophages after mild head injury.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


In this study we examined the temporal response of microglia and macrophages to mild head injury in the rat. Microglia and macrophages were identified by their distinct morphology and by immunophenotype. With regard to the latter, antibodies to OX42 and ED1 were used to define microglia and macrophages, respectively. Although there was no change in the morphology of brain macrophages after mild head injury, the morphology of microglia was dramatically altered. Microglial cell bodies appeared larger with a more elaborate arborization of cellular processes. After head injury certain populations of macrophages and microglia were more intensely immunostained. By 3 days postinjury these intensely stained cells exhibited a characteristic distribution in the brain. Prominently stained microglia were detected in the thalamus, hippocampus, lateral and medial geniculate body, and the substantia nigra. Intensely stained macrophages were located primarily in the cortex and subarachnoid space adjacent to the site of impact. By 7 days postinjury intensely immunostained macrophages and microglia were widespread throughout the injured cortex. These results demonstrate that microglia and macrophages are sensitive to mild head injury. Early changes in the macrophage population are more directly correlated with the most damaged tissue and may reflect migration of these cells from either the subarachnoid space or across the damaged blood-brain barrier. The early widespread microglial response in regions exhibiting no overt neuronal cell damage suggests that these cells are responding to more subtle factor(s) that are expressed in the mildly traumatized brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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