Increasing evidence suggests that AMPA receptors (AMPARs) play a key role in mediating excitotoxic cell damage after acute spinal cord injury (SCI). However, the role of glial AMPARs in posttraumatic white matter injury requires further clarification. In the present study we examined the changes in AMPAR expression after SCI, the cellular distribution of these changes, and their association with apoptosis. Western blots revealed expression of GluR1, 3, and 4, but not GluR2, in spinal cord white matter. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine the distribution of AMPARs in spinal cord white matter. Quantification of AMPAR-expressing cells in spinal cord white matter indicated predominantly GluR3 expression in oligodendrocytes and predominantly GluR4 expression in astrocytes. A clip compression model of SCI was used to examine the changes in AMPAR expression in dorsal column white matter after injury. Quantitative analysis of GluR3 levels of expression indicated a significant decrease at 3 days postinjury compared to uninjured animals, followed by a recovery of expression by 2 weeks. GluR4 subunits followed a similar expression pattern. Gene message expression of GluR3 and GluR4 flip/flop mRNA splice variants exhibited a pattern of expression that correlated with protein expression. GluR3-expressing glia appeared to be more susceptible to apoptosis than GluR4-expressing cells. A large decline in GluR3-expressing oligodendrocytes suggests that this subunit may be associated with the induction of apoptosis in white matter glia, thus contributing to secondary injury mechanisms.
Experimental Neurology – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2003
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