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Open Access Research

Post-ischemic estradiol treatment reduced glial response and triggers distinct cortical and hippocampal signaling in a rat model of cerebral ischemia

Maria Jose Pérez-Álvarez123, Maria del Carmen Maza123, Marta Anton123, Lara Ordoñez123 and Francisco Wandosell234*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Biología (Unidad docente Fisiología Animal), Univ. Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28049, Spain

2 Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa”, CSIC-UAM, Univ. Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28049, Spain

3 Spain and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Madrid, Spain

4 Centro de Biología Molecular "Severo Ochoa", CIBERNED-CSIC-UAM, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, C/Nicolás Cabrera n° 1, Madrid, 28049, Spain

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:157  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-157

Published: 2 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Estradiol has been shown to exert neuroprotective effects in several neurodegenerative conditions, including cerebral ischemia. The presence of this hormone prior to ischemia attenuates the damage associated with such events in a rodent model (middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO)), although its therapeutic value when administered post-ischemia has not been assessed. Hence, we evaluated the effects of estradiol treatment after permanent MCAO (pMCAO) was induced in rats, studying the PI3K/AKT/GSK3/β-catenin survival pathway and the activation of SAPK-JNK in two brain areas differently affected by pMCAO: the cortex and hippocampus. In addition, we analyzed the effect of estradiol on the glial response to injury.

Methods

Male rats were subjected to pMCAO and estradiol (0.04 mg/kg) was administered 6, 24, and 48 h after surgery. The animals were sacrificed 6 h after the last treatment, and brain damage was evaluated by immunohistochemical quantification of ‘reactive gliosis’ using antibodies against GFAP and Iba1. In addition, Akt, phospho-AktSer473, phospho-AktThr308, GSK3, phospho-GSK3Ser21/9, β-catenin, SAPK-JNK, and pSAPK-JNKThr183/Tyr185 levels were determined in western blots of the ipsilateral cerebral cortex and hippocampus, and regional differences in neuronal phospho-Akt expression were determined by immunohistochemistry.

Results

The increases in the percentage of GFAP- (5.25-fold) and Iba1- (1.8-fold) labeled cells in the cortex and hippocampus indicate that pMCAO induced ‘reactive gliosis’. This effect was prevented by post-ischemic estradiol treatment; diminished the number of these cells to those comparable with control animals. pMCAO down-regulated the PI3K/AkT/GSK3/β-catenin survival pathway to different extents in the cortex and hippocampus, the activity of which was restored by estradiol treatment more efficiently in the cerebral cortex (the most affected region) than in the hippocampus. No changes in the phosphorylation of SAPK-JNK were observed 54 h after inducing pMCAO, whereas pMCAO did significantly decrease the phospho-AktSer473 in neurons, an effect that was reversed by estradiol.

Conclusion

The present study demonstrates that post-pMCAO estradiol treatment attenuates ischemic injury in both neurons and glia, events in which the PI3K/AKT/GSK3/β-catenin pathway is at least partly involved. These findings indicate that estradiol is a potentially useful treatment to enhance recovery after human ischemic stroke.

Keywords:
MCAO; Focal ischemia; Rat; Estradiol; Brain; Estrogen; Neuroprotection; Stroke; Western blot; Immunohistochemistry; Akt