Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cut Out the (Estrogen) Middleman

10.12.2009
Estrogen seems to act like a middleman in its positive effect on the brain, raising the possibility that future drugs may bypass the carcinogenic hormone altogether while reaping its benefits.

A split-personality chemical, estrogen is thought to protect neural circuits and boost learning and memory, while at the same time increasing cancer risk when taken in high doses.

In a study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), neuroscientists at USC and the Western University of Health Sciences show that estrogen sometimes acts through another chemical.

Their experiments on mice verified that the hormone stimulates parts of the brain dedicated to learning and memory.

“We show very clearly that it does activate the same machinery that is activated during learning and memory,” said Michel Baudry, professor of neurobiology at the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

But the researchers also found that estrogen acts through calpain, a protein considered crucial to learning and memory since a seminal paper in 1984 by Baudry and Gary Lynch of the University of California, Irvine on the biochemistry of memory.

Baudry is senior co-author on the PNAS study, which implies that the hormonal description of estrogen needs revisiting.

Estrogen acting through calpain does not work as a slowly diffusing hormone, Baudry said, but as a neurotransmitter with a more powerful and nearly immediate effect on the brain.

He compared estrogen to adrenalin, a substance that acts like a hormone in most of the body but as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

“It’s not a hormonal effect. It’s a synaptic modulator. It completely changes the way we look at estrogen in the brain,” Baudry said.

That change may lead to better drugs against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to USC graduate student and lead author Sohila Zadran.

“Estrogen is critically involved in learning and memory,” she said, and the PNAS study shows that its effects “critically involve calpain.”

In the future, drug developers may choose to target calpain directly, possibly avoiding the risks associated with hormone therapy.

Such a strategy would not have been possible if Baudry’s group had not clarified estrogen’s mechanism of action.

“If you don’t understand the mechanism, it really makes it difficult to go after a problem,” Zadran said.

In addition to Zadran and Baudry, the research team consisted of senior co-author Richard Thompson, Keck Professor of Psychology at USC College; USC graduate students Homera Zadran, Young Kim and Michael Foy; and postdoctoral fellow Qingyu Qin and professor Xiaoning Bi of the Western University of Health Sciences.

Funding for this research came from the National Institute of Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Carl Marziali | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>