Glutamic acid decarboxylase messenger ribonucleic acid is regulated by estradiol and progesterone in the hippocampus

Endocrinology. 1992 Dec;131(6):2697-702. doi: 10.1210/endo.131.6.1446611.


Ovarian steroids modulate learning, memory, and epileptic seizure activity, functions that are mediated in part by the hippocampus. Normal function depends on precise interactions between the inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic and excitatory glutamatergic neurons of the hippocampus. To determine whether estradiol and progesterone interact with GABAergic neurons, the levels of mRNA for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the rate-limiting enzyme for GABA synthesis, were measured by in situ hybridization histochemistry with 35S-labeled riboprobes complimentary to the feline GAD cDNA. The levels of mRNA for GAD were analyzed in selected region of the dorsal hippocampus and medial basal hypothalamus in ovariectomized, ovariectomized estradiol-treated, and ovariectomized estradiol- and progesterone-treated rats. In estradiol-treated rats, GAD mRNA levels increased in GABAergic neurons associated with the CA1 pyramidal cell layer, but not in the stratum oriens of CA1 or any other region of the hippocampus. Estradiol plus progesterone treatment reversed the estradiol-induced increase in GAD mRNA in CA1 and induced a small decrease in the hilus. No effect of estradiol or progesterone was observed in the dorsomedial, ventromedial, or arcuate nuclei of the hypothalamus. Estradiol or progesterone may alter cognitive performance and seizure activity by increasing or decreasing, respectively, the activity of GABAergic neurons in the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Ovariectomy
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase