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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Aug;35(7):1023-33. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Estradiol-induced desensitization of 5-HT1A receptor signaling in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus is independent of estrogen receptor-beta.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Estradiol regulates serotonin 1A (5-HT(1A)) receptor signaling. Since desensitization of 5-HT(1A) receptors may be an underlying mechanism by which selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) mediate their therapeutic effects and combining estradiol with SSRIs enhances the efficacy of the SSRIs, it is important to determine which estrogen receptors are capable of desensitizating 5-HT(1A) receptor function. We previously demonstrated that selective activation of the estrogen receptor, GPR30, desensitizes 5-HT(1A) receptor signaling in rat hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). However, since estrogen receptor-beta (ERbeta), is highly expressed in the PVN, we investigated the role of ERbeta in estradiol-induced desensitization of 5-HT(1A) receptor signaling. We first showed that a selective ERbeta agonist, diarylpropionitrile (DPN) has a 100-fold lower binding affinity than estradiol for GPR30. Administration of DPN did not desensitize 5-HT(1A) receptor signaling in rat PVN as demonstrated by agonist-stimulated hormone release. Second, we used a recombinant adenovirus containing ERbeta siRNAs to decrease ERbeta expression in the PVN. Reductions in ERbeta did not alter the estradiol-induced desensitization of 5-HT(1A) receptor signaling in oxytocin cells. In contrast, in animals with reduced ERbeta, estradiol administration, instead of producing desensitization, augmented the ACTH response to a 5-HT(1A) agonist. Combined with the results from the DPN treatment experiments, desensitization of 5-HT(1A) receptor signaling does not appear to be mediated by ERbeta in oxytocin cells, but that ERbeta, together with GPR30, may play a complex role in central regulation of 5-HT(1A)-mediated ACTH release. Determining the mechanisms by which estrogens induce desensitization may aid in the development of better treatments for mood disorders.

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