Androgens have been shown to have a beneficial effect on brain injury and lower reactive astrocyte expression after TBI. Androgen receptors (ARs) are known to mediate the neuroprotective effects of androgens. However, whether ARs play a crucial role in TBI remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of ARs in TBI pathophysiology, using AR knockout (ARKO) mice. We used the controlled cortical impact model to produce primary and mechanical brain injuries and assessed motor function and brain-lesion volume. In addition, the AR knockout effects on necrosis and autophagy were evaluated after TBI. AR knockout significantly increased TBI-induced expression of the necrosis marker alpha-II-spectrin breakdown product 150 and astrogliosis marker glial fibrillary acidic protein. In addition, the TBI-induced astrogliosis increase in ARKO mice lasted for three weeks after a TBI. The autophagy marker Beclin-1 was also enhanced in ARKO mice compared with wild-type mice after TBI. Our results also indicated that ARKO mice showed a more unsatisfactory performance than wild-type mice in a motor function test following TBI. Further, they were observed to have more severe lesions than wild-type mice after injury. These findings strongly suggest that ARs play a role in TBI.
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