Protection of cultured spinal motor neurons by estradiol

Neuroreport. 2000 Nov 9;11(16):3493-7. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200011090-00019.


Estrogens have been reported to exert neuroprotection in the brain, but there have been no reports of such neuroprotection in spinal motor neurons, the neurons selectively involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In this study, we demonstrated that 17beta-estradiol and its biologically inactive stereoisomer, 17alpha-estradiol, prevented glutamate- and nitric oxide (NO)-induced selective motor neuronal death observed in primary cultures of the rat spinal cord. The dose of estradiols required for motor neuron protection was greatly reduced by co-administration with glutathione. The results of this study shows that estradiol protects spinal motor neurons from excitotoxic insults in vitro, and may have application as a treatment for ALS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Fetus
  • Fulvestrant
  • Glutamic Acid / toxicity
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Fulvestrant
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Estradiol
  • Glutathione