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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.

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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.

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