Sex-Dependent Effects of G Protein–Coupled Estrogen Receptor Activity on Outcome After Ischemic Stroke
Background and Purpose—Experimental studies indicate that estrogen typically, but not universally, has a neuroprotective effect in stroke. Ischemic stroke increases membrane-bound G protein–coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) distribution and expression in the brain of male but not female mice. We hypothesized that GPER activation may have a greater neuroprotective effect in males than in females after stroke.
Methods—Vehicle (dimethyl sulfoxide), a GPER agonist (G-1, 30 μg/kg), or a GPER antagonist (G-15, 300 μg/kg) were administered alone or in combination to young or aged male mice, or young intact or ovariectomized female mice, 1 hour before or 3 hours after cerebral ischemia-reperfusion. Some mice were treated with a combination of G-1 and the pan-caspase inhibitor, quinoline-Val-Asp(Ome)-CH2-O-phenoxy (Q-VD-OPh), 1 hour before stroke. We evaluated functional and histological end points of stroke outcome up to 72 hours after ischemia-reperfusion. In addition, apoptosis was examined using cleaved caspase-3 immunohistochemistry.
Results—Surprisingly, G-1 worsened functional outcomes and increased infarct volume in males poststroke, in association with an increased expression of cleaved caspase-3 in peri-infarct neurons. These effects were blocked by G-15 or Q-VD-OPh. Conversely, G-15 improved functional outcomes and reduced infarct volume after stroke in males, whether given before or after stroke. In contrast to findings in males, G-1 reduced neurological deficit, apoptosis, and infarct volume in ovariectomized females, but had no significant effect in intact females.
Conclusions—Future therapies for acute stroke could exploit the modulation of GPER activity in a sex-specific manner.
- Received March 17, 2013.
- Accepted December 6, 2013.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.