Estrogen-negative feedback and estrous cyclicity are critically dependent upon estrogen receptor-α expression in the arcuate nucleus of adult female mice.

PMID 24905671


The location and characteristics of cells within the brain that suppress GnRH neuron activity to contribute to the estrogen-negative feedback mechanism are poorly understood. Using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated Cre-LoxP recombination in estrogen receptor-α (ERα) floxed mice (ERα(flox/flox)), we aimed to examine the role of ERα-expressing neurons located in the arcuate nucleus (ARN) in the estrogen-negative feedback mechanism. Bilateral injection of AAV-Cre into the ARN of ERα(flox/flox) mice (n = 14) resulted in the time-dependent ablation of up to 99% of ERα-immunoreactive cell numbers throughout the rostrocaudal length of the ARN. These mice were all acyclic by 5 weeks after AAV-Cre injections with most mice in constant estrous. Control wild-type mice injected with AAV-Cre (n = 13) were normal. Body weight was not altered in ERα(flox/flox) mice. After ovariectomy, a significant increment in LH secretion was observed in all genotypes, although its magnitude was reduced in ERα(flox/flox) mice. Acute and chronic estrogen-negative feedback were assessed by administering 17β-estradiol to mice as a bolus (LH measured 3 h later) or SILASTIC brand capsule implant (LH measured 5 d later). This demonstrated that chronic estrogen feedback was absent in ERα(flox/flox) mice, whereas the acute feedback was normal. These results reveal a critical role for ERα-expressing cells within the ARN in both estrous cyclicity and the chronic estrogen negative feedback mechanism in female mice. This suggests that ARN cells provide a key indirect, transsynpatic route through which estradiol suppresses the activity of GnRH neurons.