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The ovarian steroid hormones estradiol and progesterone regulate a wide variety of non-reproductive functions in the central nervous system by interacting with molecular and cellular processes. A growing literature from studies using rodent models suggests that 17β-estradiol, the most potent of the biologically relevant estrogens, enhances synaptic transmission and the magnitude of long-term potentiation recorded from in vitro hippocampal slices. In contrast, progesterone has been shown to decrease synaptic transmission and reduce hippocampal long-term potentiation in this model system. Hippocampal long-term depression, another form of synaptic plasticity, occurs more prominently in slices from aged rats. A decrease in long-term potentiation magnitude has been recorded in hippocampal slices from both adult and aged rats behaviorally stressed just prior to hippocampal slice tissue preparation and electrophysiological recording. 17β-estradiol modifies synaptic plasticity in both adult and aged rats, whether behaviorally stressed or not by enhancing long-term potentiation and attenuating long-term depression. The studies discussed in this review provide an understanding of new approaches used to investigate the protective effects of ovarian hormones against aging and stress, and how these hormones impact age and stress-related learning and memory dysfunction.

Publisher Statement

This is an author-manuscript of an article accepted for publication in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. The published version of this record is available online at doi:

Recommended Citation

Foy, M. R. (2011). Ovarian Hormones, Aging and Stress on Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 95(2), 134–144.

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