Acute administration of non-classical estrogen receptor agonists attenuates ischemia-induced hippocampal neuron loss in middle-aged female rats

Diane Lebesgue, Michael Traub, Maxine De Butte-Smith, Christopher Chen, R. Suzanne Zukin, Martin J. Kelly, Anne M. Etgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Background: Pretreatment with 17β-estradiol (E2) is profoundly neuroprotective in young animals subjected to focal and global ischemia. However, whether E2 retains its neuroprotective efficacy in aging animals, especially when administered after brain insult, is largely unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings: We examined the neuroprotective effects of E2 and two agonists that bind to nonclassical estrogen receptors, G1 and STX, when administered after ischemia in middle-aged rats after prolonged ovarian hormone withdrawal. Eight weeks after ovariectomy, middle-aged female rats underwent 10 minutes of global ischemia by four vessel occlusion. Immediately after reperfusion, animals received a single infusion of either E2 (2.25 μg), G1 (50 μg) or STX (50 μg) into the lateral ventricle (ICV) or a single systemic injection of E2 (100 μg/kg). Surviving pyramidal neurons in the hippocampal CA1 were quantified 1 week later. E2 and both agonists that target non-classical estrogen receptors (G1 and STX) administered ICV at the time of reperfusion provided significant levels of neuroprotection, with 55-60% of CA1 neurons surviving vs 15% survival in controls. A single systemic injection of a pharmacological dose of E2 also rescued approximately 50% of CA1 pyramidal neurons destined to die. To determine if E2 and G1 have similar mechanisms of action in hippocampal neurons, we compared the ability of E2 and G1 to modify CA1 pyramidal neuron responses to excitatory inputs from the Schaffer collaterals recorded in hippocampal slices derived from female rats not subjected to global ischemia. E2 and G1 (10 nM) significantly potentiated pyramidal neuron responses to excitatory inputs when applied to hippocampal slices. Conclusions/Significance: These findings suggest (1) that middle-aged female rats retain their responsiveness to E2 even after a long period of hormone withdrawal, (2) that non-classical estrogen receptors may mediate the neuroprotective actions of E2 when given after ischemia, and (3) that the neuroprotective efficacy of estrogens may be related to their modulation of synaptic activity in hippocampal slices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8642
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this