Send to

Choose Destination
Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2006 Jul;86(1):35-46. Epub 2006 Mar 10.

Ovarian steroids enhance object recognition in naturally cycling and ovariectomized, hormone-primed rats.

Author information

Department of Psychology, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, NY, USA.


Learning and memory processes may be influenced by fluctuations in steroid hormones, such as estrogens and progestins. In this study, we have used an animal model to investigate the effects of endogenous fluctuations in ovarian steroids in intact female rats and effects of administration of ovarian steroids to ovariectomized rats for non-spatial, working memory using the object recognition task. Performance in this task relies on cortical and hippocampal function. As such, serum, cortical, and hippocampal concentrations of estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), and P4's metabolite, 5alpha-pregnan-3alpha-ol-20-one (3alpha,5alpha-THP), were measured by radioimmunoassay. Experiment 1: Rats in behavioral estrus, compared to those in diestrus or estrus, spent a greater percentage of time exploring a novel object concomitant with increases in serum E2, P4, and 3alpha,5alpha-THP levels. Regression analyses revealed that there was a significant positive relationship between E2 levels in the hippocampus and 3alpha,5alpha-THP levels in the hippocampus and cortex and performance in this task. Experiment 2: Administration of E2 and/or P4 immediately post-training increased the percentage of time spent exploring the novel object and produced levels of E2, P4, and 3alpha,5alpha-THP akin to that of rats in behavioral estrus. Experiment 3: Post-training administration of selective estrogen receptor modulators, including 17beta-E2, propyl pyrazole triol, and diarylpropionitrile increased the percentage of time spent exploring the novel object compared to vehicle-administration. Experiment 4: Post-training P4 or 3alpha,5alpha-THP administration, compared to vehicle, increased the percentage of time spent exploring the novel object and produced P4 and/or 3alpha,5alpha-THP levels within the physiological range typically observed for rats in behavioral estrus. Experiment 5: If post-training administration of E2 and/or P4 was delayed one hour, no enhancement in object recognition was observed. Together, these results suggest that E2 and progestins can have mnemonic effects through actions in the cortex and/or hippocampus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center