Estrogen affects levels of Bcl-2 protein and mRNA in medial amygdala of ovariectomized rats

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The survival factor Bcl-2 is a cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) gene product implicated in mediating some of estrogen's effects on neuroprotection. Previously, we showed an effect of estradiol benzoate (E) on numbers of neuron-specific protein (NeuN)- and phosphorylated CREB (pCREB)-positive cells in medial (MeA), but not central (CeA), amygdala of ovariectomized rats. To determine whether these effects are accompanied by an E-induced increase in Bcl-2, we examined the effects of E on levels of Bcl-2 protein and mRNA in MeA and CeA of ovariectomized rats treated with E regimens resulting in moderate (2.5 μg E for 4 or 14 days) or high (10 μg E for 14 days) plasma estradiol levels. As a physiological control, we showed that all E treatments increased uterine wet weight relative to vehicle; 10 μg E for 14 days also increased uterine weight compared with that seen with lower E levels. Western blot analysis revealed that all E groups displayed an increase in uterine Bcl-2 protein levels compared with vehicle. We found that 2.5 μg and 10 μg E for 14 days increased levels of Bcl-2 gold immunolabeling compared with vehicle and 2.5 μg E for 4 days in MeA, but not CeA. We measured Bcl-2 mRNA levels in vehicle and 2.5 μg E-treated 14-day groups. There was a significant increase in Bcl-2 mRNA levels in MeA, but not CeA, of E-treated ovariectomized rats compared with vehicle controls. The E-induced increase in protein and mRNA levels of Bcl-2 in MeA may be important for neuroprotection in this region.

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