Glial fibrillary acidic protein isoform expression in plaque related astrogliosis in Alzheimer's disease

Willem Kamphuis*, Jinte Middeldorp, Lieneke Kooijman, Jacqueline A. Sluijs, Evert-Jan Kooi, Martina Moeton, Michel Freriks, Mark R. Mizee, Elly M. Hol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyloid plaques are surrounded by reactive astrocytes with an increased expression of intermediate filaments including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Different GFAP isoforms have been identified that are differentially expressed by specific subpopulations of astrocytes and that impose different properties to the intermediate filament network. We studied transcript levels and protein expression patterns of all known GFAP isoforms in human hippocampal AD tissue at different stages of the disease. Ten different transcripts for GFAP isoforms were detected at different abundancies. Transcript levels of most isoforms increased with AD progression. GFAP delta-immunopositive astrocytes were observed in subgranular zone, hilus, and stratum-lacunosum-moleculare. GFAP delta-positive cells also stained for GFAP alpha. In AD donors, astrocytes near plaques displayed increased staining of both GFAP alpha and GFAP delta. The reading-frame-shifted isoform, GFAP(+1), staining was confined to a subset of astrocytes with long processes, and their number increased in the course of AD. In conclusion, the various GFAP isoforms show differential transcript levels and are upregulated in a concerted manner in AD. The GFAP(+1) isoform defines a unique subset of astrocytes, with numbers increasing with AD progression. These data indicate the need for future exploration of underlying mechanisms concerning the functions of GFAP delta and GFAP(+1) isoforms in astrocytes and their possible role in AD pathology. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-510
Number of pages19
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Astrocytes
  • GFAP
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • Gliosis
  • Hippocampus
  • Intermediate filaments
  • Isoforms
  • Nestin
  • Plaques
  • Synemin
  • Vimentin


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