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Neuroscience. 2005;133(1):343-52. Epub 2005 Apr 22.

17-Beta estradiol rapidly enhances extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 phosphorylation in the rat brain.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (L334), Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA.


Physiological doses of 17-beta Estradiol (E2) rapidly induce mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation in a variety of cell culture and tissue explant preparations. Rapid MAPK phosphorylation has been implicated as a critical step in estrogen's effects on neuronal activity, gene transcription and neuroprotection. The present series of in vivo experiments were designed to determine whether acute administration of estrogen rapidly increased extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) 2 phosphorylation. Brains were harvested 20 min after a single i.p. injection of 15 microg/kg of 17-beta or 17-alpha estradiol. Twelve brain structures were micro-dissected, homogenized and processed for Western blotting. E2-treated rats exhibited a statistically significant increase in ERK2 phosphorylation in the diagonal band of Broca, rostral nucleus accumbens, paraventricular nucleus, arcuate nucleus and anteromedial visual cortex. Administration of the same dose of 17-alpha estradiol did not enhance ERK phosphorylation in any of the brain regions examined. The in vivo data presented here extend previously published in vitro data indicating that E2 rapidly activates MAPK in primary neuronal cultures, explants and cell lines. These data also indicate that MAPK activation is a potential mediator of estrogens effects in some but not all estrogen receptor containing regions of the brain.

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