The excitatory amino acid analog, N-methyl-D-aspartate, was injected intracortically into nine-day-old rats. Resulting axon-sparing lesions in the developing sensorimotor cortex, which secondarily affect thalamic neurons that become deprived of cortical targets, provide an experimental model for the study of the glial response in distantly affected areas. The microglial/macrophage response was studied using tomato lectin histochemistry and major histocompatibility complex I and II immunocytochemistry. Blood- brain barrier integrity was evaluated. In the cortical lesion site, where blood-brain barrier breakdown occurs, the rapid microglial response was restricted to the degenerating area. Microglial changes were first seen at 4 h post-injection, peaking at days 3-5. Reactive microglia changed morphology, increased tomato lectin binding and expressed major histocompatibility complex I. Additionally, some cells expressed major histocompatibility complex II. In the secondarily affected thalamus, the microglial response was not as pronounced as in the cortex, was first seen at 10 h post-injection and peaked at days 3-5. Reactive microglia showed a bushy morphology, were intensely lectin positive and expressed major histocompatibility complex I. The exceptional response of the nine-day-old brain to cortical lesions makes this model an interesting tool for studying the implications of microglial major histocompatibility factor expression in still enigmatic processes such as wound healing and plasticity.
- Retrograde changes
- Tomato lectin