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GFAP expression as an indicator of disease severity in mouse models of Alexander disease

Author(s): Paige L. Jany | Tracy L. Hagemann | Albee Messing

Journal: ASN Neuro
ISSN 1759-0914

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: e00109;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: biomarker | CSF | ELISA | GFAP | luciferase

AxD (Alexander disease) is a rare disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) resulting in accumulation of the GFAP protein and elevation of Gfap mRNA. To test whether GFAP itself can serve as a biomarker of disease status or progression, we investigated two independent measures of GFAP expression in AxD mouse models, one using a genetic reporter of promoter activity and the other quantifying GFAP protein directly in a manner that could also be employed in human studies. Using a transgenic reporter line that expresses firefly luciferase under the control of the murine Gfap promoter (Gfap-luc), we found that luciferase activity reflected the regional CNS (central nervous system) variability of Gfap mRNA in Gfap+/+ mice, and increased in mice containing a point mutation in Gfap that mimics a common human mutation in AxD (R239H in the human sequence, and R236H in the murine sequence). In a second set of studies, we quantified GFAP protein in CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) taken from three different AxD mouse models and littermate controls. GFAP levels in CSF were increased in all three AxD models, in a manner corresponding to the concentrations of GFAP in brain. These studies demonstrate that transactivation of the Gfap promoter is an early and sustained indicator of the disease process in the mouse. Furthermore, GFAP in CSF serves as a potential biomarker that is comparable between mouse models and human patients.
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