Michael J Weiser

The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States

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Publications (11)44.99 Total impact

  • Robert J Handa, Michael J Weiser
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    ABSTRACT: The hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis represents a complex neuroendocrine feedback loop controlling the secretion of adrenal glucocorticoid hormones. Central to its function is the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) where neurons expressing corticotropin releasing factor reside. These HPA motor neurons are a primary site of integration leading to graded endocrine responses to physical and psychological stressors. An important regulatory factor that must be considered, prior to generating an appropriate response is the animal's reproductive status. Thus, PVN neurons express androgen and estrogen receptors and receive input from sites that also express these receptors. Consequently, changes in reproduction and gonadal steroid levels modulate the stress response and this underlies sex differences in HPA axis function. This review examines the make up of the HPA axis and hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and the interactions between the two that should be considered when exploring normal and pathological responses to environmental stressors.
    Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 11/2013; · 7.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have shown that both 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment and chronic stress may attenuate post-OVX weight gain in the female rat. However, the interaction between E2 and stress is unclear. This study examined the effect of E2 treatment and chronic immobilization stress on body weight. Adult OVX Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups in a 2X2 factorial design examining hormone treatment [vehicle (VEH) or E2, sc] and stress (no stress vs stress 60 min/day for 22 days). After 22 days, E2 significantly inhibited weight gain and food intake in OVX rats. In contrast, chronic stress reduced body weight only in control OVX animals but did not affect food intake. E2 reduced circulating leptin levels in non-stressed animals, but not in animals subjected to chronic immobilization. Western blot analysis indicated that E2 treatment increased leptin receptor (Ob-Rb) expression in the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH); however, this treatment also increased suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), which is an inhibitor of leptin signaling. Chronic immobilization stress blunted the E2-induced increase in Ob-Rb and SOCS3 levels. These results suggest that chronic stress counteracts E2 effects on leptin signaling in the MBH without altering body weight.
    Endocrine 06/2012; · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    Michael J Weiser, Chad D Foradori, Robert J Handa
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression have formidable economic and societal impacts. A dysregulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis leading to elevated endogenous glucocorticoid levels is often associated with such disorders. Chronically high glucocorticoid levels may act upon the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) to alter normally adaptive responses into those that are maladaptive and detrimental. In addition to glucocorticoids, other steroid hormones such as estradiol and androgens can also modify hormonal and behavioral responses to threatening stimuli. In particular, estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) agonists have been shown to be anxiolytic. Consequently, these experiments addressed the hypothesis that the selective stimulation of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in the CeA would increase anxiety-like behaviors and HPA axis reactivity to stress, and further, that an ERbeta agonist could modulate these effects. Young adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized and bilaterally implanted via stereotaxic surgery with a wax pellet containing the selective GR agonist RU28362 or a blank pellet, to a region just dorsal to the CeA. Four days later, animals were administered the ERbeta agonist S-DPN or vehicle (with four daily sc injections). Anxiety-type behaviors were measured using the elevated plus maze (EPM). Central RU28362 implants caused significantly higher anxiety-type behaviors in the EPM and greater plasma CORT levels than controls given a blank central implant. Moreover, S-DPN treated animals, regardless of type of central implant, displayed significantly lower anxiety-type behaviors and post-EPM plasma CORT levels than vehicle treated controls or vehicle treated animals implanted with RU28362. These results indicate that selective activation of GR within the CeA is anxiogenic, and peripheral administration of an ERbeta agonist can overcome this effect. These data suggest that estradiol signaling via ERbeta prevents glucocorticoid-dependent effects of the CeA on behavior and neuroendocrine function.
    Brain research 04/2010; 1336:78-88. · 2.46 Impact Factor
  • M J Weiser, R J Handa
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    ABSTRACT: Numerous studies have established a link between individuals with affective disorders and a dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, most notably characterized by a reduced sensitivity to glucocorticoid negative (-) feedback. Furthermore there is a sex difference in the etiology of mood disorders with incidence in females being two to three times that of males, an association that may be a result of the influence of estradiol (E2) on HPA axis function. In these studies, we have examined the effect of E2 on glucocorticoid-mediated HPA axis (-) feedback during both the diurnal peak and the stress-induced rise in corticosterone (CORT). Young adult female Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were ovariectomized (OVX) and 1 week later treated subcutaneous (s.c.) with oil or estradiol benzoate (EB) for 4 days. On the 4th day of treatment, animals were injected with a single dose of dexamethasone (DEX), or vehicle. EB treatment significantly increased the evening elevation in CORT and the stress-induced rise in CORT. In contrast, DEX treatment reduced the diurnal and stress induced rise in CORT and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and this reduction was not apparent following co-treatment with EB. To determine a potential site of E2's action, female SD rats were OVX and 1 week later, wax pellets containing E2, the estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) agonist diarylpropionitrile (DPN), or the estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) agonist propylpyrazoletriol (PPT), was implanted bilaterally and dorsal to the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Seven days later, animals were injected s.c. with a single dose of DEX, or vehicle to test for glucocorticoid-dependent (-) feedback. Results show that E2 and PPT increased, while DPN decreased the diurnal peak and stress-induced CORT and ACTH levels as compared to controls. Furthermore, E2 and PPT impaired the ability of DEX to inhibit both the diurnal and the stress-induced rise in CORT and ACTH, whereas DPN had no effect. Neuronal activation was measured by c-fos mRNA expression within the PVN following restraint. E2 and PPT increased c-fos mRNA, and impaired the normal DEX suppression of neuronal activation in the PVN. Taken together, these data indicate that estradiol causes a dysregulation of HPA axis (-) feedback as evidenced by the inability of DEX to suppress diurnal and stress-induced CORT and ACTH secretion. Additionally, the ability of E2 to inhibit glucocorticoid (-) feedback occurs specifically via ERalpha acting at the level of the PVN.
    Neuroscience 02/2009; 159(2):883-95. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    R. J. Handa, M. J. Weiser, D. G. Zuloaga
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a basic response of animals to environmental perturbations that threaten homeostasis. These responses are regulated by neurones in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) that synthesise and secrete corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). Other PVN neuropeptides, such as arginine vasopressin and oxytocin, can also modulate activity of CRH neurones in the PVN and enhance CRH secretagogue activity of the anterior pituitary gland. In rodents, sex differences in HPA reactivity are well established; females exhibit a more robust activation of the HPA axis after stress than do males. These sex differences primarily result from opposing actions of sex steroids, testosterone and oestrogen, on HPA function. Ostreogen enhances stress activated adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone (CORT) secretion, whereas testosterone decreases the gain of the HPA axis and inhibits ACTH and CORT responses to stress. Data show that androgens can act directly on PVN neurones in the male rat through a novel pathway involving oestrogen receptor (ER)beta, whereas oestrogen acts predominantly through ERalpha. Thus, we examined the hypothesis that, in males, testosterone suppresses HPA function via an androgen metabolite that binds ERbeta. Clues to the neurobiological mechanisms underlying such a novel action can be gleaned from studies showing extensive colocalisation of ERbeta in oxytocin-containing cells of the PVN. Hence, in this review, we address the possibility that testosterone inhibits HPA reactivity by metabolising to 5alpha-androstane-3beta,17beta-diol, a compound that binds ERbeta and regulates oxytocin containing neurones of the PVN. These findings suggest a re-evaluation of studies examining pathways for androgen receptor signalling.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 01/2009; 21(4):351-358. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    Michael J Weiser, T John Wu, Robert J Handa
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    ABSTRACT: Estrogens have been shown to have positive and negative effects on anxiety and depressive-like behaviors, perhaps explained by the existence of two distinct estrogen receptor (ER) systems, ERalpha and ERbeta. The ERbeta agonist, diarylpropionitrile (DPN) has been shown to have anxiolytic properties in rats. DPN exists as a racemic mixture of two enantiomers, R-DPN and S-DPN. In this study, we compared R-DPN and S-DPN for their in vitro binding affinity, ability to activate transcription in vitro at an estrogen response element, and in vivo endocrine and behavioral responses. In vitro binding studies using recombinant rat ERbeta revealed that S-DPN has a severalfold greater relative binding affinity for ERbeta than does R-DPN. Furthermore, cotransfection of N-38 immortalized hypothalamic cells with an estrogen response element-luc reporter and ERbeta revealed that S-DPN is a potent activator of transcription in vitro, whereas R-DPN is not. Subsequently, we examined anxiety-like behaviors using the open-field test and elevated plus maze or depressive-like behaviors, using the forced swim test. Ovariectomized young adult female Sprague Dawley rats treated with racemic DPN, S-DPN, and the ERbeta agonist, WAY-200070, showed significantly decreased anxiety-like behaviors in both the open-field and elevated plus maze and significantly less depressive-like behaviors in the forced swim test compared with vehicle-, R-DPN-, or propylpyrazoletriol (ERalpha agonist)-treated animals. In concordance with the relative binding affinity and transcriptional potency, these results demonstrate that the S-enantiomer is the biologically active form of DPN. These studies also indicate that estrogen's positive effects on mood, including its anxiolytic and antidepressive actions, are due to its actions at ERbeta.
    Endocrinology 01/2009; 150(4):1817-25. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to distinguish the role of specific estrogen receptors (ERs), ERalpha and ERbeta, on body weight regulation using a rat model of weight gain subsequent to menopause. Ovariectomized rats were utilized as the animal model to simulate the postmenopause weight gain. The rats were ovariectomized and subcutaneously injected daily with vehicle, estradiol-17beta (E2), propylpyrazoletriol (PPT; ERalpha agonist) and diarylpropionitrile (DPN; ERbeta agonist). To further control for the possible effect of estrogen secreted from adrenals, a second experiment was conducted during which the rats were adrenalectomized and ovariectomized. Ovariectomy significantly increased (P < .05) body weight, whereas treatment of ovariectomized rats with E2 and PPT, but DPN decreased (P < .05) body weight. The results from the second study with ovariectomized/adrenalectomized rats were consistent with the first experiment. These results suggest that the activation of ERalpha is important in regulating body weight.
    American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 07/2008; 199(1):67.e1-5. · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    C D Foradori, M J Weiser, R J Handa
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    ABSTRACT: Previous work in the endocrine and neuroendocrine fields has viewed the androgen receptor (AR) as a transcription factor activated by testosterone or one of its many metabolites. The bound AR acts as transcription regulatory element by binding to specific DNA response elements in target gene promoters, causing activation or repression of transcription and subsequently protein synthesis. Over the past two decades evidence at the cellular and organismal level has accumulated to implicate rapid responses to androgens, dependent or independent of the AR. Androgen's rapid time course of action; its effects in the absence or inhibition of the cellular machinery necessary for transcription/translation; and in the absence of translocation to the nucleus suggest a method of androgen action not initially dependent on genomic mechanisms (i.e. non-genomic in nature). In the present paper, the non-genomic effects of androgens are reviewed, along with a discussion of the possible role non-genomic androgen actions have on animal physiology and behavior.
    Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 06/2008; 29(2):169-81. · 7.99 Impact Factor
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    Michael J Weiser, Chad D Foradori, Robert J Handa
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    ABSTRACT: Estrogens have numerous effects on the brain, both in adulthood and during development. These actions of estrogen are mediated by two distinct estrogen receptor (ER) systems, ER alpha (ERalpha) and ER beta (ERbeta). In brain, ERalpha plays a critical role in regulating reproductive neuroendocrine function and behavior, however, a definitive role for ERbeta in any neurobiological function has been slow in forthcoming. Clues to the function of ERbeta in the central nervous system can be gleaned from the neuroanatomical distribution of ERbeta and the phenotypes of neurons that express ERbeta. ERbeta immunoreactivity has been found in populations of GnRH, CRH, vasopressin, oxytocin and prolactin containing neurons in the hypothalamus. Utilizing subtype-selective estrogen receptor agonists can help determine the roles for ERbeta in non-reproductive behaviors in rat models. ERbeta-selective agonists exert potent anxiolytic activity when animals were tested in a number of behavioral paradigms. Consistent with this, ERbeta-selective agonists also inhibited the ACTH and corticosterone response to stress. In contrast, ERalpha selective agonists were found to be anxiogenic and correspondingly increased the hormonal stress response. Taken together, our studies implicate ERbeta as an important modulator of some non-reproductive neurobiological systems. The molecular and neuroanatomical targets of estrogen that are mediated by ERbeta remain to be determined. A number of splice variants of ERbeta mRNA have been reported in brain tissue. Imaging of eGFP labeled chimeric receptor proteins transfected into cell lines shows that ERbeta splice variation can alter trafficking patterns and function. The originally described ERbeta (herein termed ERbeta1) is characterized by possessing a high affinity for estradiol. Similar to ERalpha, it is localized in the nucleus and is trafficked to nuclear sites termed "hyperspeckles" following ligand binding. In contrast, ERbeta2 contains an 18 amino acid insert within the ligand-binding domain and as a result can be best described as a low affinity form of ERbeta. A delta3 (delta3) variant of ERbeta has a deletion of the 3rd exon (coding for the second half of the DNA-binding domain) and as a result does not bind an estrogen response element in DNA. delta3 variants are trafficked to a unique low abundance and larger nuclear site following ligand binding. A delta4 (delta4) variant lacks exon 4 and as a result is localized to the cytoplasm. The amount of individual splice variant mRNAs varies depending upon brain region. Examination of neuropeptide promoter regulation by ERbeta splice variants demonstrates that ERbeta functions as a constitutively active transcription factor. Moreover, it appears that splice variation of ERbeta alters its ability to regulate transcription in a promoter-dependent and ligand-dependent fashion.
    Brain Research Reviews 04/2008; 57(2):309-20. · 7.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stress-induced affective disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are more prevalent in females than in males. The reduced vulnerability to these disorders in males may be due to the presence of androgens, which are known to dampen the stress response and reduce anxiety-like behaviors. However, a neurobiological mechanism for this sex difference has yet to be elucidated. Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 2 (CRHR2) has been implicated in regulating anxiety-type behaviors and is expressed in stress-responsive brain regions that also contain androgen receptors (AR). We hypothesized that androgen may exert its effects through actions on CRHR2 and we therefore examined the regulation of CRHR2 mRNA and receptor binding in the male rat forebrain following androgen administration. Young adult male Sprague/Dawley rats were gonadectomized (GDX) and treated with the non-aromatizable androgen, dihydrotestosterone propionate (DHTP) using hormone filled Silastic capsules. Control animals received empty capsules. Using quantitative real-time RT-PCR, CRHR2 mRNA levels were determined in block-dissected brain regions. DHTP treatment significantly increased CRHR2 mRNA expression in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and lateral septum (p < 0.01) when compared to vehicle-treated controls. A similar trend was observed in amygdala (p = 0.05). Furthermore, in vitro autoradiography revealed significantly higher CRHR2 binding in the lateral septum in androgen-treated males, with the highest difference observed in the ventral lateral region. Regulation of CRHR2 mRNA by AR was also examined using an in vitro approach. Hippocampal neurons, which contain high levels of AR, were harvested from E17–18 rat fetuses, and maintained in primary culture for 14 days. Neurons were then treated with dihydrotestosterone (DHT; 1 nM), DHT plus flutamide (an androgen receptor antagonist), or vehicle for 48 h. CRHR2 mRNA levels were measured using quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Consistent with in vivo studies, DHT significantly increased CRHR2 mRNA expression in hippocampal neurons (p < .02) compared to vehicle-treated controls. Flutamide treatment prevented the effect of DHT on CRHR2 mRNA indicating that DHT's effect on CRHR2 expression is AR-mediated. Thus, the CRHR2 gene appears to be a target for regulation by AR and these data suggest a potential mechanism by which androgen may alter mood and anxiety-related behaviors.
    Experimental Neurology. 01/2008;
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    ABSTRACT: Perinatal 17beta-estradiol (E2) rapidly and markedly affects the morphological and neurochemical organization of the vertebrate brain. For instance, the sex difference in perinatal progestin receptor (PR) immunoreactivity in the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN) of the rat brain is due to the intracellular conversion of testosterone into E2 in males. Neonatal alpha-fetoprotein prevents circulating estrogens from accessing the brain, therefore, to overcome alpha-fetoprotein sequestration of E2, estrogen replacement studies during development have used natural and synthetic estrogen dosages in the milligram to microgram range. These levels could be considered as supraphysiological. Moreover, it is not clear through which ER subtype E2 acts to induce PR expression in the neonatal rat MPN because E2 binds similarly to estrogen receptor (ER)alpha and ERbeta. Consequently, we investigated whether nanogram levels of E2 affected PR protein and mRNA levels in the neonatal MPN. Furthermore, propylpyrazole-triol (PPT), a highly selective agonist for ERalpha, and diarylpropionitrile (DPN), a highly selective agonist for ERbeta, were used to determine if E2-dependent PR expression in the neonatal rat is mediated through ERalpha and/or ERbeta. Immunocytochemistry and quantitative real-time RT-PCR determined that as little as 100 ng E2 significantly induced PR protein and mRNA in the female and neonatally castrated male MPN on PN 4, indicating that the neonatal rat brain is highly sensitive to circulating estrogens. PPT, but not DPN, induced PR expression in the neonatal MPN and arcuate nucleus (Arc), demonstrating that PR expression in the neonatal rat brain depends solely on E2 activated ERalpha. In the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTL), neither PPT nor DPN affected PR expression, suggesting the presence of a gonadal hormone-independent PR regulatory mechanism.
    Brain Research 05/2006; 1082(1):50-60. · 2.88 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

277 Citations
44.99 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • The University of Arizona
      • Department of Basic Medical Sciences
      Tucson, Arizona, United States
  • 2006–2010
    • Colorado State University
      • Department of Biomedical Sciences
      Fort Collins, CO, United States