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Biomed J. 2015 May-Jun;38(3):194-205. doi: 10.4103/2319-4170.158509.

Estrogen-mediated protection of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis: Lessons from the dissection of estrogen receptor-signaling in vivo.

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INSERM, U1043; CNRS, U5282; Université de Toulouse, Université Paul Sabatier, Centre de Physiopathologie de Toulouse Purpan (CPTP), Toulouse, F-31300, France.


A growing body of evidence from basic and clinical studies supports the therapeutic potential of estrogens in multiple sclerosis (MS), originating from the well-established reduction in relapse rates observed among women with MS during pregnancy. The biological effects of estrogens are mediated by estrogen receptors (ERα and ERβ). Estrogens or selective ER-agonists have been shown to exert potent neuroprotective or anti-inflammatory effects in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model of MS. A central question in EAE is to identify the cellular targets that express a functional ER isotype, and the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of estrogens. Using pharmacological approaches targeting ER-specific functions, and genetic tools such as conditional knockout mice in which ERα or ERβ are selectively deleted in specific cell populations, a clearer picture is now emerging of the various cellular targets and downstream molecules responsible for estrogen-mediated protection against central nervous system autoimmunity.

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