Estrogen Protects Neurotransmission Transcriptome During Status Epilepticus

Iacobas DA, Iacobas S, Nebieridze N, Velíšek L, Velíšková J. 2018. Frontiers in Neuroscience


Women with epilepsy commonly have premature onset of menopause. The decrease in estrogen levels is associated with increased occurrence of neurodegenerative processes and cognitive decline. Previously, we found that estradiol (E2) replacement in ovariectomized (OVX) female rats significantly reduced the seizure-related damage in the sensitive hilar region of hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG). However, the complex mechanisms by which E2 empowers the genomic fabrics of neurotransmission to resist damaging effects of status epilepticus (SE) are still unclear. We determined the protective effects of the estradiol replacement against kainic acid-induced SE-associated transcriptomic alterations in the DG of OVX rats. Without E2 replacement, SE altered expression of 44% of the DG genes. SE affected all major functional pathways, including apoptosis (61%), Alzheimer’s disease (47%), cell cycle (59%), long-term potentiation (62%), and depression (55%), as well as synaptic vesicle cycle (62%), glutamatergic (53%), GABAergic (49%), cholinergic (52%), dopaminergic (55%), and serotonergic (49%) neurotransmission. However, in rats with E2 replacement the percentage of significantly affected genes after SE was reduced to the average 11% (from 8% for apoptosis to 32% for GABAergic synapse). Interestingly, while SE down-regulated most of the synaptic receptor genes in oil-injected females it had little effect on these receptors after E2-replacement. Our novel Pathway Protection analysis indicated that the E2-replacement prevented SE-related damage from 50% for GABA to 75% for dopaminergic transmission. The 15% synergistic expression between genes involved in estrogen signaling (ESG) and neurotransmission explains why low E2 levels result in down-regulation of neurotransmission. Interestingly, in animals with E2-replacement, SE switched 131 synergistically expressed ESG-neurotransmission gene pairs into antagonistically expressed gene pairs. Thus, the ESG pathway acts like a buffer against SE-induced alteration of neurotransmission that may contribute to the E2-mediated maintenance of brain function after the SE injury in postmenopausal women. We also show that the long-term potentiation is lost in OVX rats following SE but not in those with E2 replacement. The electrophysiological findings in OVX female rats with SE are corroborated by the high percentage of long-term potentiation regulated genes (62%) in oil-injected while only 13% of genes were regulated following SE in E2-replaced rats.