Previous work has shown that the steroid hormone estradiol facilitates the release of anticonvulsant neuropeptides from inhibitory neurons in the hippocampus to suppress seizures. Because neuropeptides are packaged in large dense core vesicles, estradiol may facilitate neuropeptide release through regulation of dense core vesicles. In the current study, we used serial section electron microscopy in the hippocampal CA1 region of adult female rats to test three hypotheses about estradiol regulation of dense core vesicles: (1) Estradiol increases the number of dense core vesicles in axonal boutons, (2) Estradiol increases the size of dense core vesicles in axonal boutons, (3) Estradiol shifts the location of dense core vesicles toward the periphery of axonal boutons, potentially lowering the threshold for neuropeptide release during seizures. We found that estradiol increases the number and size of dense core vesicles in inhibitory axonal boutons, consistent with increased neuropeptide content, but does not shift the location of dense core vesicles closer to the bouton periphery. These effects were specific to large dense core vesicles (>80 nm) in inhibitory boutons. Estradiol had no effects on small dense core vesicles or dense core vesicles in excitatory boutons. Our results indicate that estradiol suppresses seizures at least in part by increasing the potentially releasable pool of neuropeptides in the hippocampus, and that estradiol facilitation of neuropeptide release involves a mechanism other than mobilization of dense core vesicles toward sites of release.
- Catamenial epilepsy
- Serial section electron microscopy
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