Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

PET Scans Reveal Estrogen-Producing Hotspots in Human Brain

04.11.2010
New radiotracer application reveals features unique to humans; may advance understanding of estrogen-related diseases

A study at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has demonstrated that a molecule “tagged” with a radioactive form of carbon can be used to image aromatase, an enzyme responsible for the production of estrogen, in the human brain. The research, published in the November issue of Synapse, also uncovered that the regions of the brain where aromatase is concentrated may be unique to humans.

“The original purpose of the study was to expand our use of this radiotracer, N-methyl-11C vorozole,” said Anat Biegon, a Brookhaven neurobiologist. “Proving that a radiotracer like vorozole can be used for brain-imaging studies in humans would be a gateway to new research on estrogen in the brain. You cannot look at these brain pathways in living humans in any other way.”

Vorozole binds to aromatase, an essential catalyst in the biosynthesis of estrogen. Since estrogen is implicated in a range of conditions and pathologies, from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease, studying its production in the human body using noninvasive imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) can be a useful diagnostic and investigative tool. This is the first study to demonstrate that vorozole is a useful radiotracer for studying estrogen-producing hotspots in the human brain.

The team used PET to scan the brains of six young, healthy nonsmoking subjects — three men and three women. Researchers scanned the female subjects at either the midcycle or early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, to incorporate variation in plasma estrogen levels. Prior to the scans, all subjects received an injection containing a radiolabeled form of vorozole, synthesized and purified by radiochemists at Brookhaven. The men underwent a second scan after being administered an aromatase inhibitor.

As expected, subjects who received the inhibitor showed low concentrations of radioactive vorozole, indicating lower availability of aromatase, compared to those not exposed to the inhibitor.

The scientists found a surprise, however, in the "geographical" (anatomical) distribution of aromatase in the brain. The highest levels of aromatase appeared in the thalamus and then the medulla, in a pattern that was consistent across all six subjects. This differs from what researchers have observed previously in animal studies, where aromatase is concentrated in smaller regions, principally the amygdala and preoptic areas.

“This started as a simple tool development study and now it’s turned out to be much more interesting than that,” Biegon said. “The question that’s raised is what is aromatase doing in these particular brain regions?”

To answer this, Biegon and her colleagues have already begun studying a larger group of 30 subjects. They will examine differences in brain aromatase related to a range of factors including age, sex, personality, and memory. Beginning with healthy subjects and advancing to patients with specific conditions and diseases, they intend to study the role of estrogen in the brain with respect to disorders and diseases such as unusual aggression, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Funding and support for this research came from the National Institutes of Health. The DOE Office of Science provided infrastructure support. In addition to Biegon, co-authors included: David L. Alexoff, Millard Jayne, Pauline Carter, Barbara Hubbard, Payton King, Jean Logan, David Schlyer, Colleen Shea, Frank Telang, and Youwen Xu of the Brookhaven National Laboratory Medical Department; Sung Won Kim and Lisa Muench of the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse in (NIAAA); Deborah Pareto of the Institut Alta Tecnologia, CIBER BBN; Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven Lab’s Medical Department and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and Joanna S. Fowler of Brookhaven Lab’s Medical Department, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Stony Brook University.

Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=1188
http://www.bnl.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>