Replicating infant-specific reactive astrocyte functions in the injured adult brain

Leon Teo, Anthony G. Boghdadi, Jihane Homman-Ludiye, Inaki Carril Mundinano, William C. Kwan, James A. Bourne

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Infants and adults respond differently to brain injuries. Specifically, improved neuronal sparing along with reduced astrogliosis and glial scarring often observed earlier in life, likely contributes to improved long-term outcomes. Understanding the underlying mechanisms could enable the recapitulation of neuroprotective effects, observed in infants, to benefit adults after brain injuries. We reveal that in primates, Eph/ ephrin signaling contributes to age-dependent reactive astrocyte behavior. Ephrin-A5 expression on astrocytes was more protracted in adults, whereas ephrin-A1 was only expressed on infant astrocytes. Furthermore, ephrin-A5 exacerbated major hallmarks of astrocyte reactivity via EphA2 and EphA4 receptors, which was subsequently alleviated by ephrin-A1. Rather than suppressing reactivity, ephrin-A1 signaling shifted astrocytes towards GAP43+ neuroprotection, accounting for improved neuronal sparing in infants. Reintroducing ephrin-A1 after middle-aged focal ischemic injury significantly attenuated glial scarring, improved neuronal sparing and preserved circuitry. Therefore, beneficial infant mechanisms can be recapitulated in adults to improve outcomes after CNS injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102108
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Astrogliosis
  • CNS injury
  • Eph/ephrin
  • Glial scarring
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Reactive astrocyte

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