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Distinct Cellular Profiles of Hif1a and Vegf mRNA Localization in Microglia, Astrocytes and Neurons during a Period of Vascular Maturation in the Auditory Brainstem of Neonate Rats


Defining the relationship between vascular development and the expression of hypoxia-inducible factors (Hifs) and vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf) in the auditory brainstem is important to understand how tissue hypoxia caused by oxygen shortage contributes to sensory deficits in neonates. In this study, we used histology, molecular labeling, confocal microscopy and 3D image processing methods to test the hypothesis that significant maturation of the vascular bed in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) occurs during the postnatal period that precedes hearing onset. Isolectin-B4 histochemistry experiments suggested that the MNTB vasculature becomes more elaborate between P5 and P10. When combined with a cell proliferation marker and immunohistochemistry, we found that vascular growth coincides with a switch in the localization of proliferating cells to perivascular locations, and an increase in the density of microglia within the MNTB. Furthermore, microglia were identified as perivascular cells with proliferative activity during the period of vascular maturation. Lastly, combined in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry experiments showed distinct profiles of Hif1a and Vegf mRNA localization in microglia, astrocytes and MNTB principal neurons. These results suggest that different cells of the neuro-glio-vascular unit are likely targets of hypoxic insult in the auditory brainstem of neonate rats.

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