Local industrial pollution induces astrocyte cytoskeleton rearrangement in the dice snake brain: GFAP as a biomarker

  • V. Y. Gasso Oles Honchar Dnipro National University
  • A. N. Hahut Oles Honchar Dnipro National University
  • S. V. Yermolenko Oles Honchar Dnipro National University
  • I. A. Hasso Oles Honchar Dnipro National University
  • C. A. Agca Bingöl University
  • E. V. Sukharenko Kerch State Maritime Technological University
  • V. S. Nedzvetsky Bingöl University
Keywords: glial fibrillary acidic protein; oxidative stress; molecular sentinel; environmental contamination; reptile


The present study was designed to evaluate the responsiveness of modulation of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) content and its fragmentation in the snake brain as a biomarker of local industrial pollution of aquatic ecosystems. Despite GFAP being a well known cytoskeleton marker of astrocytes’ reactivity in the brain of vertebrates, its expression in the snake brain remains insufficiently described. The GFAP expression and its fragmentation were detected using the immunoblot method in the snake brain. ROS level was determined with dichlorofluorescein diacetate fluorescence. The content of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) of filament (cytoskeleton) and soluble (cytosol) fractions in the brain of dice snake Natrix tessellata from three ecosystems with different rates of industrial pollution were studied (two polluted and one clean control site). Characteristic increase in GFAP fragmentation was noted for the snakes from both the researched polluted sites. Significant increase in the content of the GFAP cleaved polypeptide fragments induced by industrial pollution exposure was confirmed in the snakes’ brains. Meaningful GFAP fragmentation was determined in snake brain astrocytes as an increase in cleaved fragments of 47–35 kDa molecular weight for both soluble and cytoskeletal GFAP fractions. We found significant abnormality in the ratio of the GFAP soluble fraction to the cytoskeletal one in contaminant-exposed dice snakes. It should testify to significant metabolic disturbance in nerve cells of the dice snakes. Furthermore, growth of reactive oxygen species level as the main cause of oxidative stress was determined in brains of the snakes exposed to environmental toxicity. Thus, astrocyte cytoskeleton disorders are associated with pollutant-induced redox imbalance in the snake brain. Despite the limited data on glial cell biology in the reptilian brain, the observed results prove that snake astrocytes can respond to the environmental toxicity using typical astroglial response. The presented results evidence that monitoring of molecular characteristics of glial cytoskeleton in dice snakes could be used as reliable biomarker of neurotoxicity and adverse effects of industrial pollution. Further studies are required to elucidate the role of astrocyte cytoskeleton in the response against neurotoxic contaminants.


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