Dr. Anne Etgen’s research focuses on determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which ovarian steroid hormones regulate neuronal function, reproductive physiology and behavior.
Dr. Etgen’s current and future efforts are focused on the following:
- Testing the hypothesis that the delayed onset and reduced amplitude of the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in middle-aged female rats results in changes in the ability of ovarian steroids to modulate excitatory (glutamate, Glu) and inhibitory (GABA) signals that regulate gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. This research includes investigating the possibility that intra-hypothalamic infusion of the neuropeptide kisspeptin, a potent activator of GnRH neurons, will also rescue LH surges in middle-aged females by enhancing Glu release. Investigation also focuses on the role of reduced IGF-1 receptor signaling in the aging brain to the delayed and attenuated LH surge that characterizes menopause (Biol Reprod. 2007).
- Role of estradiol in improving outcomes after global ischemia (i.e in cardiac arrest), since they have shown that, the presence of physiological levels of estradiol before and after ischemia reduces both hippocampal neuron loss and cognitive impairments (Endocrinology 2007, see also Zukin)). Preliminary data in gerbils suggest that estradiol may no longer have beneficial effects in older females (Brain Res 2007). Therefore, this NIA-funded research is investigating whether the middle-aged brain retains its responsiveness to the neuroprotective actions of estradiol if the duration of estrogen withdrawal is brief or if brain levels of IGF-I are maintained.