Author(s): Swanson RA, Ying W, Kauppinen TM
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Abstract Glutamate excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, and acidosis are primary mediators of neuronal death during ischemia and reperfusion. Astrocytes influence these processes in several ways. Glutamate uptake by astrocytes normally prevents excitotoxic glutamate elevations in brain extracellular space, and this process appears to be a critical determinant of neuronal survival in the ischemic penumbra. Conversely, glutamate efflux from astrocytes by reversal of glutamate uptake, volume sensitive organic ion channels, and other routes may contribute to extracellular glutamate elevations. Glutamate activation of neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors is modulated by glycine and D-serine: both of these neuromodulators are transported by astrocytes, and D-serine production is localized exclusively to astrocytes. Astrocytes influence neuronal antioxidant status through release of ascorbate and uptake of its oxidized form, dehydroascorbate, and by indirectly supporting neuronal glutathione metabolism. In addition, glutathione in astrocytes can serve as a sink for nitric oxide and thereby reduce neuronal oxidant stress during ischemia. Astrocytes probably also influence neuronal survival in the post-ischemic period. Reactive astrocytes secrete nitric oxide, TNFalpha, matrix metalloproteinases, and other factors that can contribute to delayed neuronal death, and facilitate brain edema via aquaporin-4 channels localized to the astrocyte endfoot-endothelial interface. On the other hand erythropoietin, a paracrine messenger in brain, is produced by astrocytes and upregulated after ischemia. Erythropoietin stimulates the Janus kinase-2 (JAK-2) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kB) signaling pathways in neurons to prevent programmed cell death after ischemic or excitotoxic stress. Astrocytes also secrete several angiogenic and neurotrophic factors that are important for vascular and neuronal regeneration after stroke.
This article was published in Curr Mol Med
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology