Expression of connexin 43 and connexin 32 gap-junction proteins in epilepsy-associated brain tumors and in the perilesional epileptic cortex
The expression of the gap-junction proteins connexin (CX) 43 and 32 was evaluated in surgical specimens of brain tumors and perilesional cortex from patients with chronic medically intractable epilepsy. In human normal brain CX32 was expressed in neurons and oligodendrocytes. CX32 immunoreactivity (IR) was observed in the neuronal component of glioneuronal tumors and in all oligodendrogliomas, 50% of which showed strong labeling, independent of the grade of differentiation. CX43, normally expressed in astrocytes, was also detected in most of the human astrocytomas and in the astroglial component of glioneuronal tumors. Whereas most of the low-grade gliomas (>60%) showed strong membranous staining, most high-grade astrocytomas exhibited a reduction of the typical plasma membrane CX43-IR and intracytoplasmic localization. Immunoblot analysis showed different CX43 isoforms in control cortex and in low-grade gliomas. However, only one single isoform (corresponding to the non-phosphorylated form of CX43) appeared to be present in most high-grade gliomas. Increased expression of CX43 protein was present in reactive astrocytes in the epileptic cortex surrounding low-grade tumors as compared to control cortex, indicating the existence of a regulatory pathway involving CX43 in the reorganization of the astrocytic syncytium in regions undergoing reactive gliosis. The high expression of connexin proteins in low-grade tumors and in the peritumoral reactive astrocytes suggests that they could contribute to tumor-related seizures.
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