Control of aromatase in hippocampal neurons

  • Lars Fester
  • Nicola Brandt
  • Sabine Windhorst
  • Felicitas Pröls
  • Corinna Bläute
  • Gabriele M Rune


Our knowledge on estradiol-induced modulation of synaptic function in the hippocampus is widely based on results following the application of the steroid hormone to either cell cultures, or after the treatment of gonadectomized animals, thus ignoring local neuronal estrogen synthesis. We and others, however, have shown that hippocampus-derived estradiol also controls synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Estradiol synthesis in the hippocampus is regulated by several mechanisms, which are reviewed in this report. The regulation of the activity of aromatase, the final enzyme of estrogen biosynthesis, by Ca2+ transients, is of particular interest. Aromatase becomes inactivated as soon as it is phosphorylated by Ca(2+)-dependent kinases upon calcium release from internal stores. Accordingly, thapsigargin dephosphorylates aromatase and stimulates estradiol synthesis by depletion of internal Ca(2+) stores. Vice versa, letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, phosphorylates aromatase and reduces estradiol synthesis. Treatment of the cultures with 17ß-estradiol results in phosphorylation of the enzyme and increased aromatase protein expression, which suggests that estradiol synthesis in hippocampal neurons is regulated in an autocrine manner.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2016
PubMed 26472556