Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive muscular dystrophy and paralysis; most ALS patients die from respiratory failure within 3 to 5 years, and there is currently no effective treatment. Some studies have indicated sex differences in the incidence of ALS, and evidence suggests a neuroprotective role for estrogen. MATERIAL AND METHODS

We used human Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (hSOD1-G93A) transgenic mice to determine the effects of ovariotomy on the onset of disease and behavior; we also used Western blotting to measure the expression of aromatase and estrogen receptors, as well as the inflammatory cytokines and apoptosis markers, in the lumbar spinal cord to determine the mechanism of estrogen-mediated neuroprotection. RESULTS Ovariectomy advanced the onset of disease, down-regulated aromatase and estrogen receptor alpha (ER-a) expression, and inhibited expression of the anti-inflammatory factors arginase-1 and the anti-apoptotic factor B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) in the lumbar spinal cord of hSOD1-G93A transgenic mice. CONCLUSIONS Ovariectomy resulted in earlier disease onset and attenuated the anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic actions of estrogen in hSOD1-G93A transgenic mice. Therefore, estrogen may play an important role in protecting spinal cord motor neurons

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