Estrogen attenuates ischemic oxidative damage via an estrogen receptor alpha-mediated inhibition of NADPH oxidase activation.
The goal of this study was to elucidate the mechanisms of 17beta-estradiol (E(2)) antioxidant and neuroprotective actions in stroke. The results reveal a novel extranuclear receptor-mediated antioxidant mechanism for E(2) during stroke, as well as a hypersensitivity of the CA3/CA4 region to ischemic injury after prolonged hypoestrogenicity. E(2) neuroprotection was shown to involve a profound attenuation of NADPH oxidase activation and superoxide production in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons after stroke, an effect mediated by extranuclear estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-mediated nongenomic signaling, involving Akt activation and subsequent phosphorylation/inactivation of Rac1, a factor critical for activation of NOX2 NADPH oxidase. Intriguingly, E(2) nongenomic signaling, antioxidant action, and neuroprotection in the CA1 region were lost after long-term E(2) deprivation, and this loss was tissue specific because the uterus remained responsive to E(2). Correspondingly, a remarkable loss of ERalpha, but not ERbeta, was observed in the CA1 after long-term E(2) deprivation, with no change observed in the uterus. As a whole, the study reveals a novel, membrane-mediated antioxidant mechanism in neurons by E(2) provides support and mechanistic insights for a "critical period" of E(2) replacement in the hippocampus and demonstrates a heretofore unknown hypersensitivity of the CA3/CA4 to ischemic injury after prolonged hypoestrogenicity.DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3574-09.2009