Estrogen hormone reveals protective ability after traumatic brain injury

Approximately 275,000 people are hospitalized annually with traumatic brain injury, leaving 85,000 with long-term disabilities and taking the lives of more than 50,000. More than 5 million people live with disabilities caused by traumatic brain injuries, often the result of car accidents and falls. Direct and indirect costs exceed $75 billion.

Dr. Joshua Gatson, Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, investigates biomarkers and novel therapies for traumatic brain injury. His previous work has shown that estrone, one of the three naturally occurring estrogen hormones in the body, has shown some promise in reducing inflammation and cell death in the brain. His latest study is the first to demonstrate estrone provides those anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities after traumatic brain injury. It is likewise the first to reveal the cellular pathways that are involved. His findings will be presented April 22, 2012 during Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego, CA.

The study, conducted in male rats, compared 0.5 mg of estrone to a placebo, both given 30 minutes after the injury. It demonstrated that estrone is involved in promoting brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes cell survival. “BDNF, one of the main growth factors that regulates repair following injury, is actually increased following treatment with estrone after brain injury,” said Gatson, who administered the injections within 30 minutes of the injury. “So if you give this drug shortly after injury, it is thought to increase repair mechanisms.”

Most research involving protective capabilities of estrogen have focused instead on estradiol, one of the other two types of estrogen hormones, Dr. Gatson noted, so this finding indicates a fresh avenue for future study.

About Experimental Biology 2012
Experimental Biology is an annual gathering of six scientific societies that this year is expected to draw 13,000-plus independent scientists and exhibitors. The societies represented are: American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

About the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

ASPET is a 5,100 member scientific society whose members conduct basic and clinical pharmacological research within the academic, industrial and government sectors. Our members discover and develop new medicines and therapeutic agents that fight existing and emerging diseases, as well as increase our knowledge regarding how therapeutics affects humans.

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