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Accumulation of connective tissue growth factor+ cells during the early phase of rat traumatic brain injury

Yuqi Liu1, Zongwei Liu1, Xiaoming Li1, Bangwei Luo1, Jian Xiong1, Woting Gan1, Man Jiang1, Zhiyuan Zhang2, Hermann J Schluesener2 and Zhiren Zhang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Immunology, Third Military Medical University, 30 Gaotanyan Main Street, Chongqing 400038, People’s Republic of China

2 Institute of Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:141  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-141

Published: 10 July 2014



Glial scar formation is a common histopathological feature of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Astrogliosis and expression of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) are key components of scar formation and blood-brain barrier modulation. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is considered a cytokine mediating the effects of TGF-β.


Here, we studied the CTGF expression in an open-skull weight-drop-induced TBI, with a focus on the early phase, most amenable to therapy.


In normal rat brains of our study, CTGF+ cells were rarely observed. Significant parenchymal accumulation of CTGF+ non-neuron cells was observed 72 h post-TBI and increased continuously during the investigating time. We also observed that the accumulated CTGF+ non-neuron cells were mainly distributed in the perilesional areas and showed activated astrocyte phenotypes with typical stellate morphologic characteristics.


Our observations demonstrated the time-dependent and lesion-associated accumulation of cellular CTGF expression in TBI, suggesting a pathological role of CTGF in TBI.

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: webcite

Connective tissue growth factor; Astrocytes; Weight-drop model; Traumatic brain injury