Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cut out the (estrogen) middleman: Risky therapy for aging brain may be avoidable by focusing instead on hormone's target

Date:
December 14, 2009
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Estrogen has a dual role in brain as a hormone and, indirectly, as a neurotransmitter, according to a new study which suggests a strategy for replacing hormone therapy.

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.

Related Articles


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.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Cut out the (estrogen) middleman: Risky therapy for aging brain may be avoidable by focusing instead on hormone's target." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208132728.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2009, December 14). Cut out the (estrogen) middleman: Risky therapy for aging brain may be avoidable by focusing instead on hormone's target. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208132728.htm
University of Southern California. "Cut out the (estrogen) middleman: Risky therapy for aging brain may be avoidable by focusing instead on hormone's target." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208132728.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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