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Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 15;58(10):812-24. Epub 2005 Aug 22.

Alteration in estrogen receptor alpha mRNA levels in frontal cortex and hippocampus of patients with major mental illness.

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  • 1Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, MD 20892-1385, USA.



Gender differences have been described in major mental illnesses (MMI). The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and hippocampus are estrogen-sensitive brain regions structurally and functionally altered in patients with MMI. We hypothesized that gender-specific alterations in DLPFC and hippocampus estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) mRNA levels may exist in MMI patients.


We used Northern blot analysis to survey the expression of ERalpha mRNA transcripts in brain and body, detected by our human ERalpha riboprobe and in situ hybridization, to examine the expression pattern and quantify ERalpha mRNA levels in DLPFC and anterior hippocampus of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder compared with normal control subjects.


Northern blotting revealed brain-region-specific differences in expression levels of a 5 kb ERalpha mRNA transcript. By in situ hybridization, ERalpha mRNA was detected in all layers of DLPFC and all hippocampal subfields in all subjects. We detected greater DLPFC ERalpha mRNA expression in male compared with female MDD subjects and reduced ERalpha mRNA levels in the dentate gyrus of schizophrenics compared with control subjects.


Our results suggest that alterations in ERalpha mRNA levels exist in distinct telencephalic regions in male and female MDD patients, and in both genders in schizophrenia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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