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Brain Res. 2001 Jan 12;888(2):356-365.

Estrogen modulates sexually dimorphic contextual fear conditioning and hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) in rats(1).

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 E. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA.


The present study examined the role of ovarian steroids in contextual fear conditioning and hippocampal synaptic plasticity in female rats. In experiment 1, adult female rats were ovariectomized and submitted to contextual fear conditioning, a procedure in which rats received unsignaled footshock in a novel observation chamber; freezing behavior served as the measure of conditional fear. Ovariectomized female rats froze at levels comparable to male rats, both of which froze significantly more than sham-operated female rats. In experiment 2, estrogen replacement in ovariectomized female rats reduced fear conditioning to a level comparable to that of sham-operated females in experiment 1. In experiment 3, the influence of estrogen on the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) at perforant path-dentate granule cell synapses in ovariectomized female rats was examined. Estrogen decreased both population spike LTP and EPSP-spike potentiation at perforant path synapses. Taken together, these experiments indicate that ovarian steroids regulate both sexually dimorphic behavior and hippocampal plasticity in a fear-conditioning paradigm.

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