Changes in oestrogen receptor α expression in the nucleus of the solitary tract of the rat over the oestrous cycle and following ovariectomy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-502
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Volume22
Issue number6
Early online date18 May 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes
Oestrogen is capable of modulating autonomic outflow and baroreflex function via actions on groups of neurones in the brainstem. We investigated the presence of oestrogen receptor (ER) α in a part of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) associated with central cardiovascular control, aiming to determine whether ERα mRNA and protein expression is correlated with levels of circulating oestrogen during the oestrous cycle. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detected ERα mRNA in the NTS at each stage of the oestrous cycle, from ovariectomised, sham-operated and male rats. Real-time PCR showed variations in ERα mRNA expression during the oestrous cycle, with the highest levels seen in oestrus, and lowest levels in metoestrus (P < 0.05 versus oestrus) and proestrus (P < 0.05 versus oestrus). Expression in males was lower than in dioestrus and oestrus females (P < 0.05). After ovariectomy, ERα mRNA levels were decreased compared to sham-operated animals (P < 0.01). Confocal fluorescence immunohistochemistry with stereological analysis showed that numbers of ERα immunoreactive cell nuclei per mm3 of tissue in the caudal NTS were significantly greater in proestrus than in other groups of rats (P < 0.05). There were also differences among the groups in the extent of colocalisation of ERα in neurones immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase and nitric oxide synthase. These results imply a complex pattern of region-specific oestrogen signalling in the NTS and suggest that ERα expression in this important autonomic nucleus may be related to circulating oestrogen levels. This may have consequences for the regulation of autonomic tone and baroreflex sensitivity when oestrogen levels decline, for example following menopause.

    Research areas

  • Nucleus tractus solitarius, Oestrogen receptor, Oestrous cycle, Ovariectomy, Real-time PCR

External organisations

  • University of Leeds

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