Increased aromatase expression in the hippocampus of spontaneously hypertensive rats: effects of estradiol administration
There is high incidence of hippocampal abnormalities in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), including decreased neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus, astrogliosis, low expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor and decreased neuronal density in the hilar region, respect of normotensive Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY). Estradiol treatment given for 2 weeks normalized the faulty hippocampal parameters of SHR, without having effects on WKY rats. The present work studied the potential role of local estrogen biosynthesis in the hippocampus of SHR and WKY, by measuring the expression of aromatase, the key enzyme responsible for estrogen biosynthesis and involved in neuroprotection. We used 4 month old male SHR and WKY, half of which received a single sc pellet of 12 mg estradiol benzoate and the remaining half a cholesterol implant. Hippocampi were dissected and processed for aromatase mRNA expression using real time PCR. A second batch of animals was processed for aromatase and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunocytochemistry. Basal level of aromatase mRNA was higher in SHR respect of WKY. Following estradiol treatment, aromatase mRNA was further increased in the SHR group only. In the hilus of the dentate gyrus of cholesterol-implanted SHR, we found aromatase immunoreactive cell processes and fibers more strongly stained respect of WKY rats. Estradiol treatment of SHR further increased the length of immunoreactive processes and fibers in the hilar region and also increased aromatase immunoreactivity in the CA1 but not the CA3 pyramidal cell region. WKY rats were spared from the estradiol effect. Double-labelling experiments showed that aromatase+ processes and fibers of the hilus of SHR-treated rats did no colocalize with GFAP+ astrocyte cell bodies or processes. In conclusion, basal and estradiol-stimulated aromatase expression was enhanced in hypertensive rat hippocampus. A combination of exogenous estrogens and those locally synthesized may better alleviate hypertensive encephalopathy.
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