Estrogen and tamoxifen reverse manganese-induced glutamate transporter impairment in astrocytes

J Neurochem. 2009 Jul;110(2):530-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06105.x. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


Chronic exposure to manganese (Mn) can cause manganism, a neurodegenerative disorder similar to Parkinson's disease. The toxicity of Mn includes impairment of astrocytic glutamate transporters. 17beta-Estradiol (E2) has been shown to be neuroprotective in various neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and some selective estrogen receptor modulators, including tamoxifen (TX), also possess neuroprotective properties. We have tested our hypothesis that E2 and TX reverse Mn-induced glutamate transporter impairment in astrocytes. The results established that E2 and TX increased glutamate transporter function and reversed Mn-induced glutamate uptake inhibition, primarily via the up-regulation of glutamate/aspartate transporter (GLAST). E2 and TX also increased astrocytic GLAST mRNA levels and attenuated the Mn-induced inhibition of GLAST mRNA expression. In addition, E2 and TX effectively increased the expression of transforming growth factor beta1, a potential modulator of the stimulatory effects of E2/TX on glutamate transporter function. This effect was mediated by the activation of MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathways. These novel findings suggest, for the first time, that E2 and TX enhance astrocytic glutamate transporter expression via increased transforming growth factor beta1 expression. Furthermore, the present study is the first to show that both E2 and TX effectively reverse Mn-induced glutamate transport inhibition by restoring its expression and activity, thus offering a potential therapeutic modality in neurodegenerative disorders characterized by altered glutamate homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Manganese / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Manganese / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*


  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Estrogens
  • Tamoxifen
  • Manganese
  • Estradiol