Selective estrogen receptor modulators protect hippocampal neurons from kainic acid excitotoxicity: Differences with the effect of estradiol



Neuroprotective effects of estradiol are well characterized in animal experimental models. However, in humans, the outcome of estrogen treatment for cognitive function and neurological diseases is very controversial. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) may represent an alternative to estrogen for the treatment or the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders. SERMs interact with the estrogen receptors and have tissue-specific effects distinct from those of estradiol, acting as estrogen agonists in some tissues and as antagonists in others. In this study we have assessed the effect of tamoxifen, raloxifene, lasofoxifene (CP-336,156), bazedoxifene (TSE-424), and 17β-estradiol on the hippocampus of adult ovariectomized rats, after the administration of the excitotoxin kainic acid. Administration of kainic acid induced the expression of vimentin in reactive astroglia and a significant neuronal loss in the hilus. SERMs did not affect vimentin immunoreactivity in the hilus, while 17β-estradiol significantly reduced the surface density of vimentin immunoreactive profiles. Estradiol, tamoxifen (0.4–2 mg/kg), raloxifene (0.4–2 mg/kg), and bazedoxifene (2 mg/kg) prevented neuronal loss in the hilus after the administration of kainic acid. Lasofoxifene (0.4–2 mg/kg) was not neuroprotective. These findings indicate that SERMs present different dose-dependent neuroprotective effects. Furthermore, the mechanisms of neuroprotection by SERMs and estradiol are not identical, because SERMs do not significantly affect reactive gliosis while neuroprotection by estradiol is associated with a strong down-regulation of reactive astroglia. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol, 2004