"Whats the Hap" with GFAP?

Tue, 08/14/2012 - 11:27

Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) is one of the major intermediate filament axonal proteins found in mature astrocytes, the star-shaped glial cells that comprise the majority of cells within the central nervous system (1). Astrocytes perform a wide range of functions - from uptake and regulation of neutrotransmitters, to intercellular space ionic balance and regulation, to blood/brain barrier formation, and recent studies suggest a role in learning and memory. Immunofluorescence studies with GFAP antibodies demonstrated the value of GFAP as a marker to distinguish astrocytes from all other glial cells in development (2). A Nature Genetics paper using GFAP antibodies to monitor GFAP expression was able to link the aberrant expression and overexpression of a mutated GFAP variant with a rare central nervous system disorder called Alexander disease, which is characterized by seizures, ataxia, and eventual death (3). More recent experiments with GFAP antibodies have implicated increased GFAP expression with an increase in neuron density in the temporal and frontal cortexes of chronic schizophrenics (4) and inflammation-triggered degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer’s-like disease (5).

  1. PMID: 83322
  2. PMID: 4559710
  3. PMID: 11138011
  4. PMID: 20408906
  5. PMID: 19943341

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