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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2003 Feb;22(2):202-9.

Immunosuppressant FK506 affects multiple signaling pathways and modulates gene expression in astrocytes.

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Department of Cellular Biochemistry, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, 3 Pasteur Str., 02-093, Warsaw, Poland


Brain injury is often associated with proliferation and hypertrophic response of glial cells (reactive gliosis). We have previously reported immunosuppressant effects on survival of glioma cells and adult reactive astrocytes. In the present study, we demonstrate growth-inhibitory effect of FK506 on cortical astrocytes from newborn rats. FK506 inhibits Erk and PI-3K/Akt signaling, two crucial pro-survival pathways. The levels of phosphorylated Akt and p42/44 Erk decline in few hours after FK506 addition. Furthermore, in FK506-treated astrocyte cultures the levels of mRNA encoding PDGF, bFGF, and CNTF decreased. Downregulation of growth factor expression by FK506 may play a role in the inhibition of mitogenic/hypertrophic responses. FasL mRNA level was elevated and interaction of FasL with Fas receptor expressed in astrocytes may trigger cell death. Interestingly, expression of BDNF increased in a dose-dependent manner in FK506-treated astrocytes. Upregulation of BDNF mRNA and protein level in astrocytes exposed to FK506 may underlie neuroprotective action of FK506.

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