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 The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts

08.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>