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J Neurosci. 2006 May 24;26(21):5649-55.

A G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor is involved in hypothalamic control of energy homeostasis.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239-3098, USA.


Estrogens are involved in the hypothalamic control of multiple homeostatic functions including reproduction, stress responses, energy metabolism, sleep cycles, temperature regulation, and motivated behaviors. The critical role of 17beta-estradiol (E2) is evident in hypoestrogenic states (e.g., postmenopause) in which many of these functions go awry. The actions of E2 in the brain have been attributed to the activation of estrogen receptors alpha and beta through nuclear, cytoplasmic, or membrane actions. However, we have identified a putative membrane-associated estrogen receptor that is coupled to desensitization of GABAB and mu-opioid receptors in guinea pig and mouse hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurons. We have synthesized a new nonsteroidal compound, STX, which selectively targets the Galphaq-coupled phospholipase C-protein kinase C-protein kinase A pathway, and have established that STX is more potent than E2 in mediating this desensitization in an ICI 182, 780-sensitive manner in both guinea pig and mouse neurons. Both E2 and STX were fully efficacious in estrogen receptor alpha,beta knock-out mice. Moreover, in vivo treatment with STX, similar to E2, attenuated the weight gain in hypoestrogenic female guinea pigs. Therefore, this membrane-delimited signaling pathway plays a critical role in the control of energy homeostasis and may provide a novel therapeutic target for treatment of postmenopausal symptoms and eating disorders in females.

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