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Biocell. 1997 Apr;21(1):83-9.

Glucocorticoid regulation of in vitro astrocyte phagocytosis.

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Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Astrocytes participate in central nervous system injury, degenerative diseases and also perform macrophagic functions. The present work investigates: 1) the effect of the physiological glucocorticoid corticosterone (CORT) and the synthetic agonist dexamethasone (DEX) on latex beads phagocytosis by neonatal rat cortical astrocytes in culture, and 2) the expression of immunoreactive glucocorticoid receptors (GR) in astrocytes cultured in different media with or without a pulse application of CORT. The results indicated that glucocorticoids reduced astrocyte phagocytic activity, as occurred with macrophages, independently of the culturing conditions employed. The extent of phagocytosis was inversely related to nuclear immunostaining for GR in cultures in fetal calf serum, which contained endogenous glucocorticoid. However, no correlation was found between nuclear GR and phagocytosis for cultures in glucocorticoid-free medium or in medium containing CORT. It is suggested that additional factors, besides the GR, may be involved in glucocorticoid modulation of astrocyte phagocytosis.

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