Effect of ovarian steroids on gene expression related to synapse assembly in serotonin neurons of macaques

Cynthia L. Bethea, Arubala P. Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Dendritic spines are the elementary structural units of neural plasticity. In a model of hormone replacement therapy (HT), we sought to determine the effect of estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) on gene expression related to synapse assembly in a laser-captured preparation enriched for serotonin neurons from rhesus macaques. Microarray analysis was conducted (n = 2 animals/treatment), and the results were confirmed for pivotal genes with qRT-PCR on additional laser-captured material (n = 3 animals/treatment). Ovariectomized rhesus macaques were treated with placebo, E, or E + P via Silastic implants for 1 month. The midbrain was obtained, sectioned, and immunostained for tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH). TPH-positive neurons were laser captured using an arcturus laser dissection microscope (Pixel II). RNA from laser-captured serotonin neurons was hybridized to Rhesus Affymetrix GeneChips for screening purposes. There was a twofold or greater change in the expression of 63 probe sets in the cell adhesion molecule (CAM) category, and 31 probe sets in the synapse assembly category were similarly altered in E- and E + P-treated animals. qRT-PCR assays showed that E treatment induced a significant increase in ephrin receptor A4 (EPHA4) and in integrin A8 (ITGA8) but not in ephrin receptor B4 (EPHB4) or integrin B8 (ITGB8) expression. E also increased expression of cadherin 11 (CDH11), neuroligin 3 (NLGN3), neurexin 3 (NRXN3), syndecan 2 (SCD2), and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) compared with placebo. Supplemental P treatment suppressed E-induced gene expression. In summary, ovarian steroids target gene expression of adhesion molecules in serotonin neurons that are important for synapse assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1324-1334
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Affymetrix array
  • Cell adhesion molecules
  • Dorsal raphe
  • Estrogen
  • Macaques
  • Pro-gesterone
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Serotonin
  • Synapse assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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