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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jan 21;100(2):703-8. Epub 2003 Jan 6.

Estrogen receptor (ER)beta knockout mice reveal a role for ERbeta in migration of cortical neurons in the developing brain.

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Departments of Medical Nutrition and Biosciences, NOVUM, S-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 23;103(21):8298.


The present study stems from our previous observations that the brains of adult estrogen receptor beta knockout (ERbeta-/-) mice show regional neuronal hypocellularity especially in the cerebral cortex. We now show that ERbeta is necessary for late embryonic development of the brain and is involved in both neuronal migration and apoptosis. At embryonic day (E)18.5, ERbeta-/- mouse brains were smaller than those of the wild-type (WT) littermates, and there were fewer neurons in the cortex. There were no differences in size or cellularity at E14.5. When proliferating cells were labeled with 5'-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) on E12.5, a time when cortical neurogenesis in mice begins, and examined on E14.5, there was no difference between WT and ERbeta-/- mice in the number of labeled cells in the cortex. However, when BrdUrd was administered between E14.5 and E16.5, a time when postmitotic neurons migrate to layers of the cortex, there were fewer BrdUrd-labeled cells in the superficial cortical layers by E18.5 and postnatal day 14 in mice lacking ERbeta. At E18.5, there were more apoptotic cells in the ventricular zone of mice lacking ERbeta. In addition, the processes of the cortical radial glia, which are essential for guiding the migrating neurons, were fragmented. These findings suggest that by influencing migration and neuronal survival, ERbeta has an important role in brain development.

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