Estrogen signaling in stroke genetic and experimental studies
Sammanfattning: Stroke is a common and multifactorial disease influenced by genetic and environmental risk factors. It is a highly heterogeneous entity consisting of two main types, ischemic (80%) and hemorrhagic (20%) stroke. The most common form of hemorrhagic stroke is intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Ischemic stroke mainly results from thrombotic or embolic events, while ICH is caused by the rupture of an artery in the brain.The mean age of first-ever stroke is 75 years (73 vs. 78 years, for men and women, respectively) and the age-specific stroke incidence is higher for men as compared to women, suggesting that hormonal factors confer protection. A large body of experimental and observational studies shows that estrogens exert beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system. However, large, recent, clinical randomized trials have failed to demonstrate a lower risk of stroke with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in elderly postmenopausal women. It is possible that HRT may only protect a subgroup of women. Here, genetic predisposition might be involved. Stroke incidence is 50% higher in northern compared to southern Sweden, suggesting a genetic predisposition in this population. This relatively homogeneous population displays founder effects, making it well suited for genetic studies. Since 1985, the MONICA and VIP projects have conducted large-scale cardiovascular health surveys in this population. Information about conventional stroke risk determinants and also DNA have been collected, and two prospective, nested case-referent cohorts (113 cases and 226 controls; 275 cases and 549 controls) have been sampled.To investigate whether genes of the estrogen signaling system may be important in stroke development, we performed genetic association studies, including specific functional single nucleotide polymorphisms in the genes for estrogen receptor alpha (ER?, ESR1), and its target genes osteoprotegerin (OPG, TNFRS11B) and interleukin-6 (IL-6, IL6). We found a significant association between the common c.454-397T/T genotype in ESR1 and ICH, remaining after adjustments for conventional stroke risk factors. The c.454-397T/T genotype also associated with increased systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). The combination of c.454- 397T/T and either hypertension, increased SBP, or increased DBP boosted this association substantially and significant synergistic effects on ICH risk between this genotype and increased blood pressure were demonstrated. In a second study, we found a similar association between the common OPG-1181C/C genotype and ICH.Cognitive impairments, including spatial memory and learning deficiencies, are common after stroke. Estrogens improve cognitive functions, including memory and learning processes, in postmenopausal women and ovariectomized rodents. Post-ischemic housing of rats in an enriched environment (EE) improves recovery of spatial memory and learning impairments. Both estrogen and EE induce neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. We hypothesized that 17?- estradiol combined with EE would accelerate recovery after experimental focal brain ischemia in ovariectomized rats and that such improvements could be related to expression of nerve growth factor-induced gene A (NGFI-A) in the hippocampus. Five to six weeks after middle cerebral artery occlusion, 17?-estradiol–treated rats housed in an EE showed significant improvements in cognitive function (i.e., shorter latency and path in the Morris water maze task) and significantly higher NGFI-A mRNA expression in bilateral cornu ammonis 1 (CA1) and ipsilateral dentate gyrus (DG) compared to placebo-treated animals in EE.In conclusion, we present evidence for the association between polymorphic variants in the ESR1 and TNFRS11B genes and ICH and show that 17?-estradiol in combination with EE accelerates cognitive functions in a rat stroke model, putatively through upregulation of NGFI-A in hippocampal subregions. These findings may contribute to an increased understanding of the underlying genetic etiology of ICH and may be informative for the primary prevention of this disease. They also provide hope for 17?-estradiol combined with early environmental enrichment as a novel therapeutic option following ischemic stroke.
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