Mechanism of estrogen-mediated neuroprotection: Regulation of mitochondrial calcium and Bcl-2 expression

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Estrogens are neuroprotective against glutamate excitotoxicity caused by an excessive rise in intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). In this study, we demonstrate that 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment of hippocampal neurons attenuated the excitotoxic glutamate-induced rise in bulk-free [Ca2+]i despite potentiating the influx of Ca2+ induced by glutamate. E2-induced attenuation of bulk-free [Ca2+]1 depends on mitochondrial sequestration of Ca2+, which is blocked in the presence of the combination of rotenone and oligomycin or in the presence of antimycin, which collapse the mitochondrial membrane potential, thereby preventing mitochondrial Ca2+ transport. Release of mitochondrial Ca2+ by carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP) after excitotoxic glutamate treatment resulted in a greater [Ca2+]i in E2-treated cells, indicating an E2-induced increase in the mitochondrial calcium ([Ca2+]m) load. The increased [Ca2+]m load was accompanied by increased expression of Bcl-2, which can promote mitochondrial Ca2+ load tolerance. These findings provide a mechanism of E2-induced neuronal survival by attenuation of excitotoxic glutamate [Ca2+]i rise via increased mitochondrial sequestration of cytosolic Ca2+ coupled with an increase in Bcl-2 expression to sustain mitochondrial Ca2+ load tolerance and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2842-2847
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 4 2003
Externally publishedYes

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