News Release 

Estrogen improves Parkinson's disease symptoms

Insight into sex-based differences could lead to new treatments

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Confocal microscopy of neurons in control (top) and estrogen-treated mice with Parkinson's-like pathology. The estrogen treatment results in higher estrogen levels (green) and reduced Parkinson's symptoms. view more 

Credit: Rajsombath et al., JNeurosci 2019

Brain-selective estrogen treatment improves the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in male mice, according to new research published in JNeurosci. These findings may help explain the sex differences in Parkinson's disease and could lead to estrogen-based treatments.

Parkinson's disease is characterized by the death of neurons involved in movement, which may be partially caused by gene mutations for the protein α-synuclein. The mutated, shorter form of the protein clusters in neurons, resulting in their death, while the longer form resists clumping.

Estrogen is thought to protect movement neurons from Parkinson's disease, but how is unknown. Since the patients more susceptible to Parkinson's disease -- men and post-menopausal women -- have low estrogen levels, estrogen treatment might be an effective way to delay and reduce symptoms.

Silke Nuber and colleagues at Harvard Medical School treated mouse models of Parkinson's disease with brain-selective estrogen and compared the motor performance of males and females before and after treatment. The female mice showed less severe symptoms at a later age, but estrogen still improved their symptoms. In male mice, the estrogen treatment reduced α-synuclein breakdown and buildup and helped with severe symptoms, suggesting that estrogen could be a viable treatment option for Parkinson's patients with low estrogen levels.

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Manuscript title: Female Sex and Brain-Selective Estrogen Benefit α-Synuclein Tetramerization and the PD-Like Motor Syndrome in 3K Transgenic Mice

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About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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