Estradiol rescues neurons from global ischemia-induced cell death: Multiple cellular pathways of neuroprotection

Diane Lebesgue, Vivien Chevaleyre, R. Suzanne Zukin, Anne M. Etgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


The potential neuroprotective role of sex hormones in chronic neurodegenerative disorders and acute brain ischemia following cardiac arrest and stroke is of a great therapeutic interest. Long-term pretreatment with estradiol and other estrogens affords robust neuroprotection in male and female rodents subjected to focal and global ischemia. However, the receptors (e.g., cell surface or nuclear), intracellular signaling pathways and networks of estrogen-regulated genes that intervene in neuronal apoptosis are as yet unclear. We have shown that estradiol administered at physiological levels for two weeks before ischemia rescues neurons destined to die in the hippocampal CA1 and ameliorates ischemia-induced cognitive deficits in ovariectomized female rats. This regimen of estradiol treatment involves classical intracellular estrogen receptors, transactivation of IGF-1 receptors and stimulation of the ERK/MAPK signaling pathway, which in turn maintains CREB activity in the ischemic CA1. We also find that a single, acute injection of estradiol administrated into the brain ventricle immediately after an ischemic event reduces both neuronal death and cognitive deficits. Because these findings suggest that hormones could be used to treat patients when given after brain ischemia, it is critical to determine whether the same or different pathways mediate this form of neuroprotection. We find that an agonist of the membrane estrogen receptor GPR30 mimics short latency estradiol facilitation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Therefore, we are testing the hypothesis that GPR30 may act together with intracellular estrogen receptors to activate cell signaling pathways to promote neuron survival after global ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-561
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Apoptosis
  • Estrogens
  • GPR30
  • Global ischemia
  • Hippocampus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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