PublicatiesMature astrocytes in the adult human neocortex express the early neuronal marker doublecortin
Doublecortin (DCX) is a microtubule-associated protein expressed by migrating neuroblasts and is considered to be a reliable marker of neurogenesis. DCX has been used to study the relation between neurogenesis in adult human brain and neurological and neurodegenerative disease processes in the search for putative therapeutic strategies. Using autopsy and surgically resected tissue from a total of 60 patients, we present evidence that DCX is present in several cellular compartments of differentiated astrocytes in the adult human neocortex. One of these compartments consisted of peripheral processes forming punctate envelopes around mature neuronal cell bodies. Markers of glial activation, such as GFAP and HLA, were not associated with DCX immunoreactivity, however, the presence of cytoarchitectural alterations tended to correlate with reduced DCX staining of astrocytic somata. Interestingly, local Alzheimer pathology that showed no relation with cytoarchitectural abnormalities appeared to correlate negatively with the expression of DCX in the astrocytic somata. In combination with the literature our data support the view that DCX in the adult human neocortex may have a function in glia-to-neuron communication. Furthermore, our results indicate that in the adult human neocortex DCX is neither a reliable nor a selective marker of neurogenesis.