We investigated whether the immunosuppressive drugs, FK506 and cyclosporine A, increase BDNF protein and/or mRNA expression in ischemic astrocytes and if an increase could be related to changes in the nuclear expression of p-CREB, p-Erk1/2 and p-Akt. The influence of these immunosuppressants on protein and mRNA levels of TrkB and p75(NTR) receptors was also examined. On day 21, cultures of rat astrocytes were subjected to ischemic conditions simulated in vitro (combined oxygen glucose deprivation, OGD) for 8h and exposed to FK506 (10-1000nM) and cyclosporine A (0.25-10microM). FK506 and cyclosporine A (at 1000nM and 0.25microM, respectively) stimulated the expression and release of BDNF in cultured rat cerebral cortical astrocytes exposed to OGD. The immunosuppressants at these doses simultaneously increased p-CREB and p-Erk1/2 expression in the nuclear fraction of astrocytes. The results RT-PCR and Western blot analysis provided further evidence of a modulating influence of the drugs on the expression of trkB and p75(NTR) genes and their protein products in ischemic astrocytes.