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Exp Brain Res. 1998 Aug;121(3):300-10.

Acute and long-lasting changes in extracellular-matrix chondroitin-sulphate proteoglycans induced by injection of chondroitinase ABC in the adult rat brain.

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Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research, University of Leipzig, Germany.


Lattice-like perineuronal accumulations of extracellular-matrix proteoglycans have been shown to develop during postnatal maturation and to persist throughout life as perineuronal nets (PNs) in many brain regions. However, the dynamics of their reorganization in adults are as yet unknown. The aim of the present study was to examine the capability of PNs for reconstitution after experimental destruction and to search for possible consequences of extracellular-matrix degradation for neurons and glial cells. The changes were induced by single intracortical injections of Proteus vulgaris chondroitinase ABC and studied after postinjection periods of 1 day to 5 months. The N-acetylgalactosamine-binding Wisteria floribunda agglutinin (WFA), an antibody against chondroitin-sulphate proteoglycans, three antibodies recognizing initial chondroitin or chondroitin-sulphate moieties ('stubs') of proteoglycan core proteins, an antibody against the hyaluronan-binding protein component of versican, and biotinylated hyaluronectin, which binds to hyaluronan, were used as cytochemical markers. One day postinjection, the WFA-binding sites and hyaluronan were shown to be almost completely removed within a circumscribed digestion zone. The staining of different core-protein components revealed only fragments of PNs. These changes were found to be partly compensated 4 weeks after injection of chondroitinase ABC. After 8 and 12 weeks postinjection, the cytochemical and structural characteristics as well as the area-specific distribution patterns of PNs were progressively reconstituted. At 5 months postinjection, they could not be distinguished from those in untreated tissue. In contrast to such transient changes, a diffuse chondroitin-sulphate proteoglycan immunoreactivity persisted in the neuropil. Loss of neurons or alterations of their structure as well as reactions of glial cells were not observed. We conclude from this study that PNs, enzymatically destroyed in the adult rat brain, can be completely reconstituted, but the restoration of their extracellular-matrix components needs several months.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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