Reactive astrogliosis is a common pathological hallmark of CNS injury, infection, and neurodegeneration, where reactive astrocytes can be protective or detrimental to normal brain functions. Currently, the mechanisms regulating neuroprotective astrocytes and the extent of neuro-protection are poorly understood. Here, we report that conditional deletion of serum response factor (SRF) in adult astrocytes causes reactive-like hypertrophic astrocytes throughout the mouse brain. These SrfGFAP-ERCKO astrocytes do not affect neuron survival, synapse numbers, synaptic plasticity or learning and memory. However, the brains of Srf knockout mice exhibited neuroprotection against kainic-acid induced excitotoxic cell death. Relevant to human neurodegenerative diseases, SrfGFAP-ERCKO astrocytes abrogate nigral dopaminergic neuron death and reduce β-amyloid plaques in mouse models of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, respectively. Taken together, these findings establish SRF as a key molecular switch for the generation of reactive astrocytes with neuroprotec-tive functions that attenuate neuronal injury in the setting of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere95577
StatePublished - 2024


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