• Kozlova EN (2003). Differentiation and migration of astrocytes in the spinal cord following dorsal root injury in the adult rat. Eur J Neurosci 17:782-90. Summary: Nerve fibre degeneration in the spinal cord is accompanied by astroglial proliferation. It is not known whether these cells proliferate in situ or are recruited from specific regions harbouring astroglial precursors. We found cells expressing nestin, characteristic of astroglial precursors, at the dorsal surface of the spinal cord on the operated side from 30 h after dorsal root injury. Nestin-expressing cells dispersed to deeper areas of the dorsal funiculus and dorsal horn on the operated side during the first few days after injury. Injection of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) 2 h before the end of the experiment, at 30 h after injury, revealed numerous BrdU-labelled, nestin-positive cells in the dorsal superficial region. In animals surviving 20 h after BrdU injection at 28 h postlesion, cells double-labelled with BrdU and nestin were also found in deeper areas. Labeling with BrdU 2 h before perfusion showed proliferation of microglia and radial astrocytes in the ventral and lateral funiculi on both sides of the spinal cord 30 h after injury. Nestin-positive cells coexpressed the calcium-binding protein Mts1, a marker for white matter astrocytes, in the dorsal funiculus, and were positive for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), but negative for Mts1 in the dorsal horn. One week after injury the level of nestin expression decreased and was undetectable after 3 months. Taken together, our data indicate that after dorsal root injury newly formed astrocytes in the degenerating white and grey matter first appear at the dorsal surface of the spinal cord from where some of them subsequently migrate ventrally, and differentiate into white- or grey-matter astrocytes. Neuroanatomy, Department of Neuroscience, Biomedical Center, PO Box 587, SE-751 23 Uppsala, Sweden.