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Regional and Selective Effects of Oestradiol and Progesterone on NMDA and AMPA Receptors in the Rat Brain


Dr Thérèse Di Paolo Laboratoire d’endocrinologie moléculaire, Centre de recherche en endocrinologie moléculaire du CHUQ, 2705, boulevard Laurier, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada G1V 4G2


We investigated the effect of 10 months ovariectomy and a correction therapy, 2 weeks before the rats were killed, of oestradiol, progesterone or their combination on NMDA and AMPA receptor binding in the hippocampus, dentate gyrus, striatum, nucleus accumbens and frontal cortex of the rat brain as well as on amino acid levels in frontal cortex. NMDA and AMPA binding densities were assayed by autoradiography using, respectively, l-[3H]glutamate and [3H]AMPA; amino acid concentrations were measured by high performance liquid chromatograhy (HPLC) coupled with UV detection. Ovariectomy was without effect on NMDA and AMPA binding density in all brain regions assayed except in the hippocampal CA1 region and dentate gyrus where it decreased NMDA binding density compared to intact rats values. Oestradiol restored and increased NMDA binding density in the CA1 subfield and the dentate gyrus of ovariectomized rats but, by contrast, it decreased binding density in the striatum and in the frontal cortex while having no effect in the CA2/3 subfield of the hippocampus and in the nucleus accumbens. Oestradiol was without effect on AMPA binding density in the hippocampus and the dentate gyrus but it reduced AMPA binding density in the striatum, the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. Progesterone, and oestradiol combined with progesterone, decreased NMDA but not AMPA binding density in the frontal cortex of ovariectomized rats, and they were without effect on these receptors in the other brain regions assayed. Amino acid concentrations in the frontal cortex were unchanged after ovariectomy or steroid treatments. The effect of oestradiol in the hippocampus confirmed in the present study and our novel findings in the frontal cortex, striatum and nucleus accumbens may have functional significance for schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases.