Estrogen replacement therapy in women is associated with improvement of cognitive deficits and reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease. The present study indicates that estrogen is neuroprotective against N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)- and kainate-mediated neurotoxicity, an effect mediated by tyrosine kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. Estrogen also stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation of NMDA receptors via an src tyrosine kinase/MAPK pathway. Finally, estrogen-mediated enhancement of long-term potentiation in hippocampal slices is mediated by activation of an src tyrosine kinase pathway. Thus, estrogen, by activating an src tyrosine kinase and the extracellular signal-related protein kinase/MAPK signaling pathway, both enhances NMDA receptor function and long-term potentiation and retains neuroprotective properties against excitotoxicity. These findings warrant further evaluation of the usefulness of estrogenic compounds for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Bi, R., Broutman, G., Foy, M. R., Thompson, R. F., & Baudry, M. (2000). The tyrosine kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways mediate multiple effects of estrogen in hippocampus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97(7), 3602–3607.