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Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan;81(1):12-20. doi: 10.1124/mol.111.074021. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Estrogen receptors and type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors are interdependent in protecting cortical neurons against β-amyloid toxicity.

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Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.


We examined the interaction between estrogen receptors (ERs) and type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlu1 receptors) in mechanisms of neurodegeneration/neuroprotection using mixed cultures of cortical cells challenged with β-amyloid peptide. Both receptors were present in neurons, whereas only ERα but not mGlu1 receptors were found in astrocytes. Addition of 17β-estradiol (17βE2) protected cultured neurons against amyloid toxicity, and its action was mimicked by the selective ERα agonist, 1,3,5-tris(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4-propyl-1H-pyrazole (PPT) as well as by a cell-impermeable bovine serum albumin conjugate of 17βE2. The selective ERβ agonist, diarylpropionitrile (DPN), was only slightly neuroprotective. The mGlu1/5 receptor agonist, 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG), was also neuroprotective against amyloid toxicity, and its action was abolished by the mGlu1 receptor antagonist, (3,4-dihydro-2H-pyrano[2,3-b]quinolin-7-yl)-(cis-4-methoxycyclohexyl)-methanone (JNJ 16259685). Neuroprotection by 17βΕ2 or PPT (but not DPN) and DHPG was less than additive, suggesting that ERα and mGlu1 receptors activate the same pathway of cell survival. More important, neuroprotection by 17βΕ2 was abolished not only by the ER antagonist fulvestrant (ICI 182,780) but also by JNJ 16259685, and neuroprotection by DHPG was abolished by ICI 182,780. ERα and mGlu1 receptors were also interdependent in activating the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase pathway, and pharmacological blockade of this pathway abolished neuroprotection by 17βE2, DHPG, or their combination. These data provide the first evidence that ERα and mGlu1 receptors critically interact in promoting neuroprotection, information that should be taken into account when the impact of estrogen on neurodegeneration associated with central nervous system disorders is examined.

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