Article

Aromatase immunoreactivity in fetal ovine neuronal cell cultures exposed to oxidative injury

Department of Animal Biology, University of Sassari, Italy.
European journal of histochemistry: EJH (Impact Factor: 2.24). 12/2009; 53(4):e28. DOI: 10.4081/ejh.2009.e28
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A lot of evidence testifies that aromatase is expressed in the central nervous system where it has been detected not only in hypothalamic and limbic regions but also in the cerebral cortex and spinal cord. In physiological conditions, aromatase is expressed exclusively by neurons, where it has been mainly found in cell bodies, processes and synaptic terminals. Moreover, primary cultured cortical astrocytes from female rats are more resistant to oxidant cell death than those from males, suggesting a protective role of estradiol. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in aromatase expression in response to 3-nitro-L-tyrosine, a marker of oxidative stress, in primary neuronal cell cultures from brains of 60-day old sheep fetuses. Cells were identified as neurons by using class III β-tubulin, a marker of neuronal cells. Two morphological types were consistently recognizable: i) bipolar cells with an oval cell body; ii) multipolar cells whose processes formed a wide net with those of adjacent cells. In situ hybridization technique performed on 60-day old fetal neurons revealed that in baseline conditions aromatase gene expression occurs. Importantly, cells exposed to 360 µM 3-nitro-L-tyrosine were fewer and showed more globular shape and shorter cytoplasmic processes in comparison to control cells. The immunocytochemical study with anti-aromatase antibody revealed that cells exposed to 360 µM 3-nitro-L-tyrosine were significantly more immunoreactive than control cells. Thus, it can be postulated that the oxidant effects of the amino acid analogue 3-nitro-L-tyrosine could be counterbalanced by an increase in aromatase expression that in turn can lead to the formation of neuroprotective estradiol via aromatization of testosterone.

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