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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar 4;100(5):2842-7. Epub 2003 Feb 25.

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

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology and Program in Neuroscience, Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, 1985 Zonal Avenue, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA. jnilsen@hsc.usc.edu

Abstract

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

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