The microtubule-associated protein MAP-2 is an integral part of the cytoskeleton and plays an important role in neural morphogenesis. This protein is an essential component of the dendritic cytoskeleton, especially in the adult brain, and its expression can be altered under experimental or pathological conditions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of infection with the rabies virus on MAP-2 immunoreactivity in the cerebral cortex of mice. The mice were inoculated with the rabies virus and the animals were sacrificed when the disease reached its advanced stage, together with uninfected animals of the same age. The brains were extracted after being previously perfusion-fixed with paraformaldehyde; coronal sections were obtained with a vibratome. The coronal sections were processed by immunohistochemistry to reveal the presence of the MAP-2 protein in neurons of the motor area of the cerebral cortex. Rabies-infected mice showed an increase in the immunoreactivity of the somata and apical dendrites in pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex. This is an unexpected result, as dendritic pathology has been previously demonstrated in rabies, and some studies on neurological disorders associate dendritic alterations with loss of expression of the MAP-2 protein. Therefore, whatever the alteration in the expression of this protein, decrease or increase, it could be causing a biochemical imbalance in the integrity and stability of the neuronal cytoskeleton.
KEY WORDS: MAP-2; Cerebral cortex; Pyramidal neurons; Rabies virus; Immunohistochemistry.