Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) comprise a family of transcription factors that mediate a wide variety of biological functions in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Injury to neural tissue induces STAT activation, and STATs are increasingly recognized for their role in neuronal survival. In this review, we discuss the role of STAT3 during neural development and following ischemic and traumatic injury in brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. We focus on STAT3 because of the expanding body of literature that investigates protective and regenerative effects of growth factors, hormones and cytokines that use STAT3 to mediate their effect, in part through transcriptional upregulation of neuroprotective and neurotrophic genes. Defining the endogenous molecular mechanisms that lead to neuroprotection by STAT3 after injury might identify novel therapeutic targets against acute neural tissue damage as well as chronic neurodegenerative disorders.
- Spinal cord injury
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