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      Tamoxifen, a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator, Reduces Ischemic Damage Caused by Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion in the Ovariectomized Female Rat

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          Previous work has demonstrated that physiological concentrations of 17β-estradiol can protect the female rat brain against middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO)-induced ischemic damage. The present study examined whether therapeutic doses of the clinically relevant selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), tamoxifen, can similarly protect the female rat brain against ischemic stroke damage. Adult female rats were bilaterally ovariectomized and implanted subcutaneously with either a placebo or tamoxifen time-release pellet (0.1, 0.8 or 2.4 mg/kg/day). One week later, the animals underwent permanent MCAO to assess the protective ability of the different tamoxifen doses on brain infarct size. As expected, MCAO produced a large infarct (∼53%) of the affected cerebral hemisphere in placebo (control) animals. The 0.1 mg/kg/day dose of tamoxifen did not exhibit any significant protective effects, however; the 0.8 and 2.4 mg/kg/day doses of tamoxifen, which are in the therapeutic range, dramatically reduced infarct of the affected cerebral hemisphere (∼70% reduction) as compared to the controls. The reduction of infarct size was primarily due to protection of two major structures, the cerebral cortex and striatum. Laser Doppler analysis further revealed that tamoxifen had no significant effect on cerebral blood flow either before or after MCAO, suggesting that tamoxifen protection is independent of cerebral blood flow changes. Further studies showed that tamoxifen pellets implanted at the time of MCAO did not reduce infarct size, suggesting that pretreatment with tamoxifen is necessary to observe a protective effect. These studies suggest that clinically important SERMs may have an additional unrecognized beneficial effect of protection of the female brain.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Estrogen receptor alpha, not beta, is a critical link in estradiol-mediated protection against brain injury.

           Roger Wise,  S Rau,  M Kindy (2001)
          Estradiol protects against brain injury, neurodegeneration, and cognitive decline. Our previous work demonstrates that physiological levels of estradiol protect against stroke injury and that this protection may be mediated through receptor-dependent alterations of gene expression. In this report, we tested the hypothesis that estrogen receptors play a pivotal role in mediating neuroprotective actions of estradiol and dissected the potential biological roles of each estrogen receptor (ER) subtype, ER alpha and ER beta, in the injured brain. To investigate and delineate these mechanisms, we used ER alpha-knockout (ER alpha KO) and ER beta-knockout (ER beta KO) mice in an animal model of stroke. We performed our studies by using a controlled endocrine paradigm, because endogenous levels of estradiol differ dramatically among ER alpha KO, ER beta KO, and wild-type mice. We ovariectomized ER alpha KO, ER beta KO, and the respective wild-type mice and implanted them with capsules filled with oil (vehicle) or a dose of 17 beta-estradiol that produces physiological hormone levels in serum. One week later, mice underwent ischemia. Our results demonstrate that deletion of ER alpha completely abolishes the protective actions of estradiol in all regions of the brain; whereas the ability of estradiol to protect against brain injury is totally preserved in the absence of ER beta. Thus, our results clearly establish that the ER alpha subtype is a critical mechanistic link in mediating the protective effects of physiological levels of estradiol in brain injury. Our discovery that ER alpha mediates protection of the brain carries far-reaching implications for the selective targeting of ERs in the treatment and prevention of neural dysfunction associated with normal aging or brain injury.
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            Estradiol protects against ischemic injury.

            Clinical studies demonstrate that estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women may enhance cognitive function and reduce neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's disease and stroke. This study assesses whether physiologic levels of estradiol prevent brain injury in an in vivo model of permanent focal ischemia. Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized; they then were implanted, immediately or at the onset of ischemia, with capsules that produced physiologically low or physiologically high 17beta-estradiol levels in serum (10 or 60 pg/mL, respectively). One week after ovariectomy, ischemia was induced. Estradiol pretreatment significantly reduced overall infarct volume compared with oil-pretreated controls (mean+/-SD: oil = 241+/-88; low = 139+/-91; high = 132+/-88 mm3); this protective effect was regionally specific to the cortex, since no protection was observed in the striatum. Baseline and ischemic regional CBF did not differ between oil and estradiol pretreated rats, as measured by laser Doppler flowmetry. Acute estradiol treatment did not protect against ischemic injury. Our finding that estradiol pretreatment reduces injury demonstrates that physiologic levels of estradiol can protect against neurodegeneration.
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              Estrogen augments glucose transporter and IGF1 expression in primate cerebral cortex.

              Estrogen has many positive effects on neural tissue in experimental model systems, including stimulation of neurite growth and neurotransmitter synthesis and protection against diverse types of neural injury. In humans, estrogen treatment is reputed to protect against Alzheimer's disease. To investigate potential mediators of estrogen's action and determine whether selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as tamoxifen have estrogen-like effects in the primate brain, we evaluated the expression of glucose transporters and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and its receptor in the frontal cortex of ovariectomized rhesus monkeys. We treated one group for 3 days with vehicle, another with 17 beta estradiol (E2), and a third with tamoxifen. The expression of facilitative glucose transporters (Gluts) 1, 3, and 4 was investigated using in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and immunoblot analysis. Gluts 3 and 4 were concentrated in cortical neurons and Glut1 in capillaries and glial cells. E2 treatment induced two- to fourfold increases in Glut3 and Glut4 mRNA levels and lesser but significant increases in Glut3 and 4 protein levels. E2 treatment induced an approximately 70% increase in parenchymal Glut1 mRNA levels, but did not appreciably affect vascular Glut1 gene expression. IGF1 and IGF1 receptor mRNAs were concentrated in cortical neurons in a distribution similar to Gluts 3 and 4. IGF1 mRNA levels were significantly increased in E2-treated animals but IGF1 receptor mRNA levels were not altered by hormone treatment. Tamoxifen increased cerebral cortical Glut3 and 4 mRNA levels, but did not affect Glut1, IGF1, or IGF1 receptor expression. This study provides novel data showing that Gluts 3 and 4 and IGF1 are coexpressed by primate cerebral cortical neurons, where their expression is enhanced by estrogen. These findings suggest that up-regulation of glucose transporter and IGF1 expression may contribute to estrogen's salutary effects on neural tissue. Tamoxifen, an antiestrogen at the breast, is shown to have estrogen-like effects on higher brain centers in the monkey, suggesting that some SERMs may share estrogen's neuroprotective potential for menopausal women.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                January 2003
                10 March 2003
                : 77
                : 1
                : 44-50
                aDepartment of Physiology, and bInstitute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Neurobiology Program, and Department of Neurology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Ga., USA
                68332 Neuroendocrinology 2003;77:44–50
                © 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 6, References: 38, Pages: 7
                Reproductive Neuroendocrinology


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