Oestrogen synthesis in the hippocampus: Role in axon outgrowth

C. von Schassen, L. Fester, J. Prange-Kiel, C. Lohse, C. Huber, M. Böttner, Gabriele M. Rune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Ovarian oestrogens have been postulated to be neuroprotective. It has also been shown that considerable amounts of oestrogens are synthesised in hippocampal neurones. In the present study, we focused on a potential role of hippocampus-derived oestradiol compared to gonad-derived oestradiol on axon outgrowth of hippocampal neurones. To address the role of hippocampus-derived oestradiol, we inhibited oestrogen synthesis by treatment of neonatal hippocampal cell cultures with letrozole, a specific aromatase inhibitor. As an alternative, we used siRNA against steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR). Axon outgrowth and GAP-43 expression were significantly down-regulated in response to letrozole and in siRNA-StAR transfected cells. The effects after inhibition of oestrogen synthesis in response to letrozole and in siRNA-StAR transfected cells were reversed by oestrogen supplementation. No difference was found between ovariectomised animals, cycling animals at pro-oestrus and ovariectomised and subsequently oestradiol-treated animals. However, high pharmacological doses of oestradiol promoted axon outgrowth, which was possible to abolish by the oestrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780. Our results show that oestradiol-induced neurite outgrowth is very likely mediated by genomic oestrogen receptors and requires higher doses of oestradiol than physiological serum concentrations derived from the gonads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006


  • Aromatase
  • GAP-43
  • Neurite outgrowth
  • Neuroprotection
  • Oestrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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