Analyzing the influence of BDNF heterozygosity on spatial memory response to 17β-estradiol

Y. W C Wu, X. Du, M. Van Den Buuse, R. A. Hill

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The recent use of estrogen-based therapies as adjunctive treatments for the cognitive impairments of schizophrenia has produced promising results; however the mechanism behind estrogen-based cognitive enhancement is relatively unknown. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates learning and memory and its expression is highly responsive to estradiol. We recently found that estradiol modulates the expression of hippocampal parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons, known to regulate neuronal synchrony and cognitive function. What is unknown is whether disruptions to the aforementioned estradiol-parvalbumin pathway alter learning and memory, and whether BDNF may mediate these events. Wild-type (WT) and BDNF heterozygous (+/-) mice were ovariectomized (OVX) at 5 weeks of age and simultaneously received empty, estradiol-or progesterone-filled implants for 7 weeks. At young adulthood, mice were tested for spatial and recognition memory in the Y-maze and novel-object recognition test, respectively. Hippocampal protein expression of BDNF and GABAergic interneuron markers, including parvalbumin, were assessed. WT OVX mice show impaired performance on Y-maze and novel-object recognition test. Estradiol replacement in OVX mice prevented the Y-maze impairment, a Behavioral abnormality of dorsal hippocampal origin. BDNF and parvalbumin protein expression in the dorsal hippocampus and parvalbumin-positive cell number in the dorsal CA1 were significantly reduced by OVX in WT mice, while E2 replacement prevented these deficits. In contrast, BDNF+/- mice showed either no response or an opposite response to hormone manipulation in both behavioral and molecular indices. Our data suggest that BDNF status is an important biomarker for predicting responsiveness to estrogenic compounds which have emerged as promising adjunctive therapeutics for schizophrenia patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere498
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

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