Estradiol Decreases Cortical Reactive Astrogliosis after Brain Injury by a Mechanism Involving Cannabinoid Receptors


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Abstract

The neuroactive steroid estradiol reduces reactive astroglia after brain injury by mechanisms similar to those involved in the regulation of reactive gliosis by endocannabinoids. In this study, we have explored whether cannabinoid receptors are involved in the effects of estradiol on reactive astroglia. To test this hypothesis, the effects of estradiol, the cannabinoid CB1 antagonist/inverse agonist AM251, and the cannabinoid CB2 antagonist/inverse agonist AM630 were assessed in the cerebral cortex of male rats after a stab wound brain injury. Estradiol reduced the number of vimentin immunoreactive astrocytes and the number of glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactive astrocytes in the proximity of the wound. The effect of estradiol was significantly inhibited by the administration of either CB1 or CB2 receptor antagonists. The effect of estradiol may be in part mediated by alterations in endocannabinoid signaling because the hormone increased in the injured cerebral cortex the messenger RNA levels of CB2 receptors and of some of the enzymes involved in the synthesis and metabolism of endocannabinoids. These findings suggest that estradiol may decrease reactive astroglia in the injured brain by regulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system.

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