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 The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>