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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(3):545-58. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120283.

New evidence of mitochondria dysfunction in the female Alzheimer's disease brain: deficiency of estrogen receptor-β.

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Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ, USA.


Accumulating evidence suggests that mitochondria are important targets for the actions of estrogens and studies indicated that localization of estrogen receptor β (ERβ) in neuronal mitochondrial (mtERβ) might directly affect neuronal mitochondrial function in vitro. However, it is unknown what expression levels and how important mtERβ is in the human brain, particularly in a brain with Alzheimer's disease (AD). In the present study, using rapidly autopsied human brain tissue, we found that the frontal cortices of female AD patients exhibited significantly reduced mtERβ, along with reduced mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase activity, and increased protein carbonylation compared to that in normal controls. The correlation between mtERβ expression and mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase activity in the female human brain is significant. To understand the possible mechanisms of mtERβ in AD-related mitochondrial dysfunction, using ERβKO mice as a model, we found that lack of ERβ enhanced brain reactive oxygen species generation and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential under Aβ peptide insult compared to brain mitochondria from wild-type control mice. Our studies, for the first time, demonstrated neuronal mtERβ expression in the human brain and the deficiency of mtERβ in the female AD brain is associated with the dysfunction of mitochondria. Our results from ERβKO mice demonstrated that ERβ depletion-induced mitochondrial dysfunction is mediated through increasing reactive oxygen generation and reduction of mitochondria membrane potential. These results indicate that ERβ depletion impairs mitochondrial function in mice, and reduction of brain mtERβ may significantly contribute to the mitochondrial dysfunction involved in AD pathogenesis in women.

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