Although both central and peripheral neurons successfully regenerate cut axons along peripheral nerve and other suitable substrates, axonal elongation through the mature central nervous system (CNS) is limited. It has been proposed that the presence of reactive astrocytes formed in response to CNS injury act as a barrier to axonal regeneration. In contrast, in vitro, astrocytes in a flat or unstimulated state have been shown to be a preferred substrate for neurite extension. We have investigated whether induced modifications of astrocytes alter the capacity of these cells to act as a substrate for axonal elongation. Treatment with dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dBcAMP) results in a marked morphological and biochemical change in astrocytes, considered by some to be a model of reactive astrocytosis. Retinal and dorsal root ganglia explants from embryonic mice were cultured on top of untreated glial monolayers and those treated with dBcAMP. The subsequent neuritic growth was measured at 48 h. No difference was found between the groups, indicating that astrocytes are an excellent substrate for axonal growth, even after they develop a stellate shape and high levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience