Proestrous compared to diestrous wildtype, but not estrogen receptor beta knockout, mice have better performance in the spontaneous alternation and object recognition tasks and reduced anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus and mirror maze
17β-Estradiol (E2) may influence cognitive and/or affective behavior in part via the β isoform of the estrogen receptor (ERβ). Endocrine status and behavior in cognitive (object recognition, T-maze), anxiety (open field, elevated plus maze, mirror maze, emergence), and motor/coordination (rotarod, activity chamber) tasks of proestrous and diestrous wildtype (WT) and ERβ knockout (βERKO) mice was examined. Proestrous (WT or βERKO), versus diestrous, mice had higher E2 and progestin levels in plasma, hippocampus, and cortex. The only effect of genotype on hormone levels was for corticosterone, such that βERKO mice had higher concentrations of corticosterone than did WT mice. Proestrous WT, but not βERKO, mice had improved performance in the object recognition (greater percentage of time with novel object) and T-maze tasks (greater percentage of spontaneous alternations) and less anxiety-like behavior in the plus maze (increased duration on open arms) and mirror chamber task (increased duration in mirror) than did diestrous mice. This pattern was not seen in the rotarod, open field, or activity monitor, suggesting effects may be specific to affective and cognitive behavior, rather than motor behavior/coordination. Thus, enhanced performance in cognitive tasks and anti-anxiety-like behavior of proestrous mice may require actions of ERβ in the hippocampus and/or cortex.