Traumatic brain injury frequently affects the cerebral cortex, yet little is known about the differential effects that occur if only the gray matter (GM) is damaged or if the injury also involves the white matter (WM). To tackle this important question and directly compare similarities and differences in reactive gliosis, we performed stab wound injury affecting GM and WM (GM+) and one restricted to the GM (GM-) in the adult murine cerebral cortex. First, we examined glial reactivity in the regions affected (WM and GM) and determined the influence of WM injury on reactive gliosis in the GM comparing the same area in the two injury paradigms. In the GM+ injury microglia proliferation is increased in the WM compared with GM, while proliferating astrocytes are more abundant in the GM than in the WM. Interestingly, WM lesion exerted a strong influence on the proliferation of the GM glial cells that was most pronounced at early stages, 3 days post lesion. While astrocyte proliferation was increased, NG2 glia proliferation was decreased in the GM+ compared with GM- lesion condition. Importantly, these differences were not observed when a lesion of the same size affected only the GM. Unbiased proteomic analyses further corroborate our findings in support of a profound difference in GM reactivity when WM is also injured and revealed MIF as a key regulator of NG2 glia proliferation.