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      Estrogen Modulation of the Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein Pathway

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          Actions of estrogen include mechanisms leading to alterations in gene transcription that may be independent of nuclear estrogen receptors, as well as those involving direct action of the estrogen receptor on the genome. Also, the influence of estrogen in the brain appears to extend well beyond areas associated with reproduction and may include forebrain areas linked to affective and cognitive behaviors. We investigated the effects of acute and long-term estradiol benzoate (E2) treatment on total and phosphorylated cyclic AMP responsive element-binding (CREB) protein levels and on cyclic AMP response element (CRE)-DNA binding in forebrain areas of ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Long-term E2 treatment increased CRE-DNA binding in the amygdala but not in hippocampus, frontal cortex, or cerebellum. The increase in CRE-DNA binding in the amygdala was associated with increased levels of total and phosphorylated CREB (pCREB) protein during protracted E2 exposure. To localize the estrogenic effect in the amygdala and determine if an effect in one hippocampal region was masked by a lack of effect in another subregion, we performed immunolabeling of pCREB in brain structures of chronically treated OVX animals with or without E2. This treatment resulted in a significant increase in relative total immunolabeled nuclei in the anteroventral subdivision of the medial amygdala. In the hippocampus, a significant increase in relative total immunolabeled nuclei was seen in the CA1 and CA3 regions, but not in the dentate gyrus or hilus of the dentate gyrus. Acute E2 treatment resulted in increased CRE-DNA binding in the frontal cortex but not in amygdala, hippocampus, or cerebellum. However, no changes in levels of total CREB or pCREB protein were observed in the frontal cortex under E2 treatment. No changes were observed either in basal or cAMP-stimulated protein kinase A (PKA) activity or in PKA-α catalytic subunit immunoreactivity in the amygdala or the frontal cortex. Our study indicates that both long-term and acute treatments with estrogens influence the function of CREB in specific brain structures.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Stress and hippocampal plasticity.

           B McEwen (1998)
          The hippocampus is a target of stress hormones, and it is an especially plastic and vulnerable region of the brain. It also responds to gonadal, thyroid, and adrenal hormones, which modulate changes in synapse formation and dendritic structure and regulate dentate gyrus volume during development and in adult life. Two forms of structural plasticity are affected by stress: Repeated stress causes atrophy of dendrites in the CA3 region, and both acute and chronic stress suppresses neurogenesis of dentate gyrus granule neurons. Besides glucocorticoids, excitatory amino acids and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are involved in these two forms of plasticity as well as in neuronal death that is caused in pyramidal neurons by seizures and by ischemia. The two forms of hippocampal structural plasticity are relevant to the human hippocampus, which undergoes a selective atrophy in a number of disorders, accompanied by deficits in declarative episodic, spatial, and contextual memory performance. It is important, from a therapeutic standpoint, to distinguish between a permanent loss of cells and a reversible atrophy.
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            CREB and memory.

            The cAMP responsive element binding protein (CREB) is a nuclear protein that modulates the transcription of genes with cAMP responsive elements in their promoters. Increases in the concentration of either calcium or cAMP can trigger the phosphorylation and activation of CREB. This transcription factor is a component of intracellular signaling events that regulate a wide range of biological functions, from spermatogenesis to circadian rhythms and memory. Here we review the key features of CREB-dependent transcription, as well as the involvement of CREB in memory formation. Evidence from Aplysia, Drosophila, mice, and rats shows that CREB-dependent transcription is required for the cellular events underlying long-term but not short-term memory. While the work in Aplysia and Drosophila only involved CREB function in very simple forms of conditioning, genetic and pharmacological studies in mice and rats demonstrate that CREB is required for a variety of complex forms of memory, including spatial and social learning, thus indicating that CREB may be a universal modulator of processes required for memory formation.
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              Comparative distribution of estrogen receptor-? and -? mRNA in the rat central nervous system


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                October 2001
                05 October 2001
                : 74
                : 4
                : 227-243
                aDepartment of Anatomy and Cell Biology and bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, and cVeterans Affairs Chicago Health Care System (West Side Division), Chicago, Ill., USA
                54690 Neuroendocrinology 2001;74:227–243
                © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 1, References: 92, Pages: 17
                Signaling Mechanisms


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