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      Adult male rat hippocampus synthesizes estradiol from pregnenolone by cytochromes P45017  and P450 aromatase localized in neurons

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          Abstract

          In adult mammalian brain, occurrence of the synthesis of estradiol from endogenous cholesterol has been doubted because of the inability to detect dehydroepiandrosterone synthase, P45017alpha. In adult male rat hippocampal formation, significant localization was demonstrated for both cytochromes P45017alpha and P450 aromatase, in pyramidal neurons in the CA1-CA3 regions, as well as in the granule cells in the dentate gyrus, by means of immunohistochemical staining of slices. Only a weak immunoreaction of these P450s was observed in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. ImmunoGold electron microscopy revealed that P45017alpha and P450 aromatase were localized in pre- and postsynaptic compartments as well as in the endoplasmic reticulum in principal neurons. The expression of these cytochromes was further verified by using Western blot analysis and RT-PCR. Stimulation of hippocampal neurons with N-methyl-d-aspartate induced a significant net production of estradiol. Analysis of radioactive metabolites demonstrated the conversion from [(3)H]pregnenolone to [(3)H]estradiol through dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone. This activity was abolished by the application of specific inhibitors of cytochrome P450s. Interestingly, estradiol was not significantly converted to other steroid metabolites. Taken together with our previous finding of a P450scc-containing neuronal system for pregnenolone synthesis, these results imply that 17beta-estradiol is synthesized by P45017alpha and P450 aromatase localized in hippocampal neurons from endogenous cholesterol. This synthesis may be regulated by a glutamate-mediated synaptic communication that evokes Ca(2+) signals.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Characterization and measurement of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in rat brain.

          Dehydroepiandrosterone (3 beta-hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one, I) sulfate (Ia) has been characterized in the anterior and the posterior parts of the brain of adult male rats. Its level (1.58 +/- 0.14 and 4.89 +/- 1.06 ng/g, mean +/- SD, in anterior and posterior brain, respectively) largely exceeded that of I in brain (0.42 +/- 0.10 and 0.12 +/- 0.03 ng/g in anterior and posterior brain, respectively) and of Ia in plasma (0.26 +/- 0.13 ng/ml). Brain Ia level did not seem to depend on adrenal secretion; it was unchanged after administration of corticotropin or dexamethasone for 3 days, and no meaningful change occurred in brain 15 days after adrenalectomy plus orchiectomy, compared with sham-operated controls. In contrast, stress conditions prevailing 2 days after adrenalectomy plus orchiectomy or after the corresponding sham operation resulted in a significantly increased concentration of Ia in the brain. Changes of Ia level in brain occurred irrespective of changes in corresponding plasma samples. It is proposed that Ia formation or accumulation (or both) in the rat brain depends on in situ mechanisms unrelated to the peripheral endocrine gland system.
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            Estradiol increases the sensitivity of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells to NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic input: correlation with dendritic spine density.

            Previous studies have shown that estradiol induces new dendritic spines and synapses on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. We have assessed the consequences of estradiol-induced dendritic spines on CA1 pyramidal cell intrinsic and synaptic electrophysiological properties. Hippocampal slices were prepared from ovariectomized rats treated with either estradiol or oil vehicle. CA1 pyramidal cells were recorded and injected with biocytin to visualize spines. The association of dendritic spine density and electrophysiological parameters for each cell was then tested using linear regression analysis. We found a negative relationship between spine density and input resistance; however, no other intrinsic property measured was significantly associated with dendritic spine density. Glutamate receptor autoradiography demonstrated an estradiol-induced increase in binding to NMDA, but not AMPA, receptors. We then used input/output (I/O) curves (EPSP slope vs stimulus intensity) to determine whether the sensitivity of CA1 pyramidal cells to synaptic input is correlated with dendritic spine density. Consistent with the lack of an estradiol effect on AMPA receptor binding, we observed no relationship between the slope of an I/O curve generated under standard recording conditions, in which the AMPA receptor dominates the EPSP, and spine density. However, recording the pharmacologically isolated NMDA receptor-mediated component of the EPSP revealed a significant correlation between I/O slope and spine density. These results indicate that, in parallel with estradiol-induced increases in spine/synapse density and NMDA receptor binding, estradiol treatment increases sensitivity of CA1 pyramidal cells to NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic input; further, sensitivity to NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic input is well correlated with dendritic spine density.
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              Neurosteroid biosynthesis: genes for adrenal steroidogenic enzymes are expressed in the brain.

              To determine if neurosteroids (steroids synthesized in the brain) are produced by enzymes found in steroidogenic tissues, we determined if mRNA for five steroidogenic enzymes could be detected in brain tissues or cultured cells. We detected mRNAs for adrenodoxin, P450scc (cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme) and P450c11 beta (11 beta-hydroxylase) but not for P450c17 (17 alpha-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase) or P450c11AS (aldosterone synthase) in rat brains and cultures of rat glial cells. P450scc mRNA abundance in brain or primary glial cultures was approximately 0.01% of that found in the adrenal, but more P450scc mRNA was detected in C6 glial cells. Both P450scc and P450c11 beta mRNAs were most abundant in the cortex, but there were region-specific differences for both mRNAs, and sex-specific differences for P450c11 beta mRNA. P450scc mRNA was equally abundant in mixed glial cultures containing both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes as in astrocyte-enriched cultures, and P450scc immunoreactivity co-localized with GFAP immunoreactivity in cultured astrocytes. P450c11 beta mRNA was not detected in the mixed primary glial cultures for the C6 glioma cell line that synthesize P450scc mRNA, suggesting that glial cells do not synthesize P450c11 beta mRNA. Thus some of the same enzymes involved in steroidogenesis in classic endocrine tissues are found in a cell-specific and region-specific fashion in the brain. Neurosteroids may be derivatives of known classic steroids, and/or may function through non-classic steroid hormone receptors, such as GABAA, N-methyl-D-aspartate, and corticosterone receptors.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                January 20 2004
                January 20 2004
                December 23 2003
                January 20 2004
                : 101
                : 3
                : 865-870
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.2630225100
                321772
                14694190
                © 2004
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