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Mechanism of raloxifene-induced upregulation of glutamate transporters in rat primary astrocytes



Raloxifene (RX), a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), exerts neuroprotection in multiple clinical and experimental settings. Astrocytic glutamate transporters GLT-1 (EAAT2) and GLAST (EAAT1) are the main glutamate transporters in the central nervous system, taking up most of excess glutamate from the synaptic cleft to prevent excitotoxic neuronal death. Since drugs targeting astrocytic glutamate transporters to enhance their expression and function represent potential therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders associated with excitotoxicity, we tested if RX modulates the expression and function of GLT-1 and GLAST in rat primary astrocytes. The results showed that RX significantly increased glutamate uptake and expression of GLT-1 mRNA and protein levels. RX enhanced GLT-1 expression by the activation of multiple signaling pathways including ERK, EGFR, and CREB mediated by estrogen receptors (ERs) ER-α, ER-β, and GPR30. At the transcriptional level, NF-κB played a critical role in RX-induced GLT-1 expression as RX increased NF-κB reporter activity and induced binding of NF-κB p65 and p50 to the GLT-1 promoter. RX attenuated the reduction of GLT-1 expression and glutamate uptake induced by manganese (Mn) whose chronic high levels of exposure cause manganism. RX also upregulated GLAST by increasing its promoter activity and protein levels via the NF-κB pathway and ERs. Our findings provide new insight into the mechanism of RX-induced enhancement of GLT-1 and GLAST expression, as well as the attenuation of Mn-reduced expression of these transporters. These findings will be highly valuable for developing therapeutics of neurodegenerative diseases associated with impaired astrocytic glutamate transporters. GLIA 2014;62:1270–1283

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