Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Epileptic Seizures Affected By Estrogen

Date:
May 1, 2007
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Scientists report that understanding how estrogen contributes to seizure activity could lead to novel and needed therapeutic targets for anti-epileptic drugs.

In more than a third of women with epilepsy, seizures fluctuate across the menstrual cycle, due in part to continually fluctuating effects of estrogen on the neural circuitry in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in learning and memory - and in epileptic seizures.

Related Articles


Northwestern University scientist Dr. Catherine S. Woolley, a pioneer in understanding the effects of hormones on the structure and function of neural circuitry, says understanding how estrogen contributes to seizure activity could lead to novel and needed therapeutic targets for anti-epileptic drugs.

On April 30, Dr. Woolley told fellow scientists meeting at Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, DC, that new and unexpected findings in her laboratory suggest where such therapies might intervene. Dr. Woolley had been selected to present this year's C. J. Herrick Award Lecture, a distinguished award presented as part of the scientific program of the American Association of Anatomists.

A decade ago, Dr. Woolley discovered that estrogen increases the number of excitatory synapses on neurons in the hippocampus. Excitatory synapses activate neurons, sending and receiving neurotransmitters, explaining how estrogen could enhance learning and memory consolidation. Beyond the fact that estrogen played this role, her findings surprised the scientific community for two more reasons. First, based on natural hormone cycles, the synaptic turnover was very rapid, demonstrating remarkable plasticity of the brain. Second, the estrogen-influenced changes were taking place in the hippocampus, outside what were then considered the traditional hormone-sensitive regions of the brain.

Dr. Woolley's research since has focused on these estrogen fluctuations and how they drive synaptic changes. She now has shown that, in addition to their effect on excitatory synapses that turn on neurons, fluctuating levels of estrogen also have an equally dramatic effect on the inhibitory synapses that silence neurons. Using a combination of electrophysiology to measure synaptic function and nanoscale measurements of synaptic structure, her team has shown that estrogen suppresses the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters, and that this occurs by regulating vesicles at inhibitory synapses (vesicles being the membranes that contain neurotransmitters).

And once again, there was an additional, surprising finding, says Dr. Woolley. Estrogen receptors are typically found in the cell nucleus where they regulate the expression of genes, a relatively slow mechanism to change brain function. Her group found that these receptors also are located on vesicles at inhibitory synapses and that estrogen mobilizes these vesicles toward synapses. The synaptic location of estrogen receptors shows that the effects of this hormone in the brain can be targeted to individual synapses, fine-tuning how neurons communicate, and on a much more rapid time scale then previously appreciated. The estrogen regulation of neurotransmitter vesicles points to novel targets for anti-epilepsy therapies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Epileptic Seizures Affected By Estrogen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430120523.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2007, May 1). Epileptic Seizures Affected By Estrogen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430120523.htm
Northwestern University. "Epileptic Seizures Affected By Estrogen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430120523.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Humanoid Robot Can Recognise and Interact With People

Humanoid Robot Can Recognise and Interact With People

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 20, 2015) An ultra-realistic humanoid robot called &apos;Han&apos; recognises and interprets people&apos;s facial expressions and can even hold simple conversations. Developers Hanson Robotics hope androids like Han could have uses in hospitality and health care industries where face-to-face communication is vital. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Britain&apos;s opposition Labour Party Monday claimed the National Health Service (NHS) was &apos;on life support&apos; as it turned its attention to the state-run service, which is a key issue for the UK&apos;s May 7 general election. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Students Back to School After Long Ebola Closure

Sierra Leone Students Back to School After Long Ebola Closure

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 20, 2015) After an eight-month break, children in Sierra Leone return to school for the first time since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen E-Cigarette Use Triples, Government Debates Regulations

Teen E-Cigarette Use Triples, Government Debates Regulations

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2015) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in 2014, 13.4 percent of high school students reported smoking an e-cigarette within 30 days. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins