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Reviews in the Neurosciences

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Possible roles of astrocytes in estrogen neuroprotection during cerebral ischemia

Cuifen Wang1, 2 / Chao Jie1 / 1

1Department of Physiology, Medical School of Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China

2Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25755, USA

Corresponding author: Xiaoniu Dai, Department of Physiology, Medical School of Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, e-mail:

Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences. Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 255–268, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2013-0055, February 2014

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17β-Estradiol (E2), one of female sex hormones, has well-documented neuroprotective effects in a variety of clinical and experimental disorders of the central cerebral ischemia, including stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. The cellular mechanisms that underlie these protective effects of E2 are uncertain because a number of different cell types express estrogen receptors in the central nervous system. Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the central nervous system and provide structural and nutritive support of neurons. They interact with neurons by cross-talk, both physiologically and pathologically. Proper astrocyte function is particularly important for neuronal survival under ischemic conditions. Dysfunction of astrocytes resulting from ischemia significantly influences the responses of other brain cells to injury. Recent studies demonstrate that estrogen receptors are expressed in astrocytes, indicating that E2 may exert multiple regulatory actions on astrocytes. Cerebral ischemia induced changes in the expression of estrogen receptors in astrocytes. In the present review, we summarize the data in support of possible roles for astrocytes in the mediation of neuroprotection by E2 against cerebral ischemia.

Keywords: astrocytes; cerebral ischemia; estrogen receptors; neuroprotection; 17β-estradiol

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