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Neurochem Int. 2013 Oct;63(4):291-301. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2013.06.013. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Age-related changes in brain support cells: Implications for stroke severity.

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Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Women's Health in Neuroscience Program, Texas A&M HSC College of Medicine, Bryan, TX 77807, United States.


Stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability and the fourth leading cause of mortality in the US. Stroke disproportionately occurs among the elderly, where the disease is more likely to be fatal or lead to long-term supportive care. Animal models, where the ischemic insult can be controlled more precisely, also confirm that aged animals sustain more severe strokes as compared to young animals. Furthermore, the neuroprotection usually seen in younger females when compared to young males is not observed in older females. The preclinical literature thus provides a valuable resource for understanding why the aging brain is more susceptible to severe infarction. In this review, we discuss the hypothesis that stroke severity in the aging brain may be associated with reduced functional capacity of critical support cells. Specifically, we focus on astrocytes, that are critical for detoxification of the brain microenvironment and endothelial cells, which play a crucial role in maintaining the blood brain barrier. In view of the sex difference in stroke severity, this review also discusses studies of middle-aged acyclic females as well as the effects of the estrogen on astrocytes and endothelial cells.


Aging; Astrocytes; Endothelial cells; Hormones; Stroke

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