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 Rochester scientists discover gene controlling genetic recombination rates
23.04.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle

23.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Joining metals without welding

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

23.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>