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Stress. 2009 Sep;12(5):457-63. doi: 10.1080/10253890802520988.

Estrogen prevents norepinephrine alpha-2a receptor reversal of stress-induced working memory impairment.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10029, USA. shansky@gmail.com

Abstract

Understanding effects of estrogen on the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) may help to elucidate the increased prevalence of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in women of ovarian cycling age. Estrogen replacement in ovariectomized (OVX) young rats amplifies the detrimental effects of stress on working memory (a PFC-mediated task), but the mechanisms by which this occurs have yet to be identified. In male rats, stimulation of norepinephrine alpha-2 adrenoceptors protects working memory from stress-induced impairments. However, this effect has not been studied in females, and has not been examined for sensitivity to estrogen. The current study asked whether OVX females with estrogen replacement (OVX+Est) and without replacement (OVX+Veh) responded differently to stimulation of alpha-2 adrenoceptors after administration of the benzodiazepine inverse agonist FG7142, a pharmacological stressor. The alpha-2 agonist, guanfacine, protected working memory from the impairing effects of FG7142 in OVX+Veh, but not in OVX+Est rats. Western Blot analysis for alpha-2 receptors was performed on PFC tissue from each group, but no changes in expression were found, indicating that the behavioral effects observed were likely not due to changes in receptor expression. These findings point to possible mechanisms by which estrogen may enhance the stress response, and hold implications for the gender discrepancy in the prevalence of stress-related mental illness.

PMID:
19005873
PMCID:
PMC3143502
DOI:
10.1080/10253890802520988
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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