Protective Effects of 17β-Estradiol on Hippocampal Myelinated Fibers in Ovariectomized Middle-aged Rats

Publication date: 10 August 2018
Source:Neuroscience, Volume 385
Author(s): Qian Xiao, Yanmin Luo, Fulin Lv, Qi He, Hong Wu, Fenglei Chao, Xuan Qiu, Lei Zhang, Yuan Gao, Chunxia Huang, Sanrong Wang, Chunni Zhou, Yi Zhang, Lin Jiang, Yong Tang
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) improves hippocampus-dependent cognition. This study investigated the impact of estrogen on hippocampal volume, CA1 subfield volume and myelinated fibers in the CA1 subfield of middle-aged ovariectomized rats. Ten-month-old bilaterally ovariectomized (OVX) female rats were randomly divided into OVX + E2 and OVX + Veh groups. After four weeks of subcutaneous injection with 17β-estradiol or a placebo, the OVX + E2 rats exhibited significantly short mean escape latency in a spatial learning task than that in the OVX + Veh rats. Using stereological methods, we did not observe significant differences in the volumes of the hippocampus and CA1 subfields between the two groups. However, using stereological methods and electron microscopy techniques, the total length of myelinated fibers and the total volumes of myelinated fibers, myelin sheaths and myelinated axons in the CA1 subfields of OVX + E2 rats were significantly 38.1%, 34.2%, 36.1% and 32.5%, respectively, higher than those in the OVX + Veh rats. After the parameters were calculated according to different diameter ranges, the estrogen replacement-induced remodeling of myelinated fibers in CA1 was mainly manifested in the myelinated fibers with a diameter of <1.0 μm. Therefore, four weeks of continuous E2 replacement improved the spatial learning capabilities of middle-aged ovariectomized rats. The E2 replacement-induced protection of spatial learning abilities might be associated with the beneficial effects of estrogen on myelinated fibers, particularly those with the diameters less than 1.0 μm, in the hippocampal CA1 region of middle-aged ovariectomized rats.

Graphical abstract