Evaluation of the protective effect of oestradiol against toxicity induced by 6-hydroxydopamine and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (Mpp+) towards dopaminergic mesencephalic neurones in primary culture

J Neurochem. 2002 Jan;80(2):307-16. doi: 10.1046/j.0022-3042.2001.00693.x.


Recent findings suggest that gonadal steroid hormones are neuroprotective and may provide clinical benefits in delaying the development of Parkinson's disease. In this report we investigated the ability of oestradiol to protect mesencephalic dopaminergic neurones cultured in serum-free or serum-supplemented medium from toxicity induced by 6-hydroxydopamine or 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+). The efficiency of both toxins and oestradiol was evaluated by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunocytochemistry, [3H]dopamine ([3H]DA) uptake, length of dopaminergic processes and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release measurement. In cultures grown in serum-supplemented medium, a 2-h pre-treatment with high concentrations (10-100 microM) of 17beta-oestradiol or 17alpha-oestradiol, the stereoisomer with weak oestrogenic activity, protected both dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurones from toxicity induced by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA; 40 or 100 microM) and by the high MPP+ concentrations (50 microM) necessary to obtain significant neuronal death under those culture conditions. At these concentrations, MPP+ was no longer selective for dopaminergic neurones but affected all cells present in the culture. In contrast, the hormonal treatments did not protect against selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurones induced by lower MPP+ concentrations (below 10 microM), related to inhibition of complex I of respiratory chain. In cultures grown in serum-free medium, oestradiol concentrations higher than 1 microM induced neuronal degeneration and no protection against 6-OHDA or MPP+ toxicity was observed at lower concentrations of the steroid. The neuroprotective effects of 17alpha- or 17beta-oestradiol evidenced in this model might be due to the antioxidant properties of these compounds. However, other non-genomic effects of the steroids cannot be excluded.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridinium / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Herbicides / toxicity
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Nerve Degeneration / drug therapy
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Oxidopamine / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sympatholytics / toxicity


  • Antioxidants
  • Herbicides
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Sympatholytics
  • Estradiol
  • Oxidopamine
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridinium
  • Dopamine