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Glial cells revealed by GFAP immunoreactivity in fish gut

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Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is a commonly used marker to identify enteric glia in the mammalian gut. Little is however known about enteric glia in other vertebrates. The aim of the present study was to examine the distribution of GFAP immunoreactivity in adult and developing fish. In adult shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius) and zebrafish (Danio rerio), GFAP immunoreactivity was seen in the myenteric plexus in all regions of the gut. Co-staining for the neuronal markers Hu C/D and acetylated tubulin showed that GFAP immunoreactivity was not associated with nerves. GFAP immunoreactivity was predominantly seen in processes with few glial cell bodies being demonstrated in adult fish. GFAP immunoreactivity was also found in the gut in larval zebrafish from 3 days post-fertilisation, i.e. at approximately the same time that differentiated enteric nerve cells first occur. Immunoreactivity was most prominent in areas with no or a low density of Hu-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies, indicating that the developing glia follows a different pattern from that of enteric neurons. The results suggest that GFAP can be used as a marker for enteric glia in fish, as in birds and mammals. The distribution of GFAP immunoreactivity implies that enteric glia are widespread in the fish gastrointestinal tract. Glia and neurons diverge early during development of the gastrointestinal tract.

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The authors thank Prof. Susanne Holmgren for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Catharina Olsson.

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This study was financed by a grant from the Swedish Research Council.

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Hagström, C., Olsson, C. Glial cells revealed by GFAP immunoreactivity in fish gut. Cell Tissue Res 341, 73–81 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-010-0979-3

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  • Enteric nervous system
  • Enteric glia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Zebrafish, Danio rerio
  • Shorthorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus scorpius (Teleostei)