Astrocytes from acyclic female rats exhibit lowered capacity for neuronal differentiation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Astrocytes comprise a large proportion of the central nervous system support cells and play a critical role in neural injury and repair. The present study examined the impact of ovarian aging using an ex vivo model system, where astrocytes were derived from the olfactory bulb of young, reproductively competent females and reproductive senescent females. Cellular morphology and the spatial pattern of laminin deposition was altered in astrocyte cultures derived from reproductive senescent females. Young adult astrocytes had a flattened polygonal shape with actin bundles at the cell edges, while reproductive senescent astrocytes had a contractile appearance with thick stress fibers visible throughout the cell. Moreover, in reproductive senescent astrocytes, BDNF was elevated with a concomitant reduction in expression of the BDNF receptor, TrkB. To examine the ability of astrocytes derived from young adult and reproductive senescent females to promote neuronal differentiation, neural progenitor cells (NPCs) were co-cultured with astrocytes derived from these groups. At day 4 in vitro, MAP-2(+) NPCs were located in smaller clusters when co-cultured with young adult astrocytes and in large clusters when co-cultured with older astrocytes. At days 6 and 10, neuronal differentiation was significantly reduced in reproductive senescent astrocyte-NPC co-cultures, as determined by NeuN(+) cell numbers and MAP-2(+) process lengths. Furthermore, estrogen only enhanced neuronal differentiation in young adult-NPC co-cultures. The ovarian age-related astrocyte phenotype thus limits the ability of this cell to promote neuronal differentiation in NPC populations and suggests that the astrocyte-mediated microenvironment in older acyclic females is less conducive to repair following neurovascular injury.

published proceedings

  • Aging Cell

author list (cited authors)

  • Lewis, D. K., Woodin, H. R., & Sohrabji, F

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Lewis, Danielle K||Woodin, Heather R||Sohrabji, Farida

publication date

  • September 2008