Estrogen mediates neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory effects during EAE through ERα signaling on astrocytes but not through ERβ signaling on astrocytes or neurons.
Estrogens can signal through either estrogen receptor α (ERα) or β (ERβ) to ameliorate experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the most widely used mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Cellular targets of estrogen-mediated neuroprotection are still being elucidated. Previously, we demonstrated that ERα on astrocytes, but not neurons, was critical for ERα ligand-mediated neuroprotection in EAE, including decreased T-cell and macrophage inflammation and decreased axonal loss. Here, we determined whether ERβ on astrocytes or neurons could mediate neuroprotection in EAE, by selectively removing ERβ from either of these cell types using Cre-loxP gene deletion. Our results demonstrated that, even though ERβ ligand treatment was neuroprotective in EAE, this neuroprotection was not mediated through ERβ on either astrocytes or neurons and did not involve a reduction in levels of CNS inflammation. Given the differential neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects mediated via ERα versus ERβ on astrocytes, we looked for molecules within astrocytes that were affected by signaling through ERα, but not ERβ. We found that ERα ligand treatment, but not ERβ ligand treatment, decreased expression of the chemokines CCL2 and CCL7 by astrocytes in EAE. Together, our data show that neuroprotection in EAE mediated via ERβ signaling does not require ERβ on either astrocytes or neurons, whereas neuroprotection in EAE mediated via ERα signaling requires ERα on astrocytes and reduces astrocyte expression of proinflammatory chemokines. These findings reveal important cellular differences in the neuroprotective mechanisms of estrogen signaling through ERα and ERβ in EAE.
Spence, RD; Wisdom, AJ; Cao, Y; Hill, HM; Mongerson, CRL; Stapornkul, B; Itoh, N; Sofroniew, MV; Voskuhl, RR
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