Molecular imaging provides novel insights on estrogen receptor activity in mouse brain

Mol Imaging. 2008 Nov-Dec;7(6):283-92.


Estrogen receptors have long been known to be expressed in several brain areas in addition to those directly involved in the control of reproductive functions. Investigations in humans and in animal models suggest a strong influence of estrogens on limbic and motor functions, yet the complexity and heterogeneity of neural tissue have limited our approaches to the full understanding of estrogen activity in the central nervous system. The aim of this study was to examine the transcriptional activity of estrogen receptors in the brain of male and female mice. Exploiting the ERE-Luc reporter mouse, we set up a novel, bioluminescence-based technique to study brain estrogen receptor transcriptional activity. Here we show, for the first time, that estrogen receptors are similarly active in male and female brains and that the estrous cycle affects estrogen receptor activity in regions of the central nervous system not known to be associated with reproductive functions. Because of its reproducibility and sensitivity, this novel bioluminescence application stands as a candidate as an innovative methodology for the study and development of drugs targeting brain estrogen receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Diestrus / physiology
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Estrus / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fulvestrant
  • Luciferases / drug effects
  • Luciferases / metabolism*
  • Luminescence
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Proestrus / physiology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*


  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Fulvestrant
  • Estradiol
  • Luciferases