The influence of estrogen receptor α signaling independent of the estrogen response element on avoidance behavior, social interactions, and palatable ingestive behavior in female mice

Kimberly Wiersielis, Ali Yasrebi, Patricia Ramirez, Jessica Verpeut, Daniel Regan, Troy A. Roepke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Women are vulnerable to developing mental disorders that are associated with circulating estrogens. Estrogens, especially 17β-estradiol (E2), have a wide array of effects on the brain, affecting many behavioral endpoints associated with mental illness. By using a total estrogen receptor (ER) α knockout (KO), an ERα knock in/knock out (KIKO) that lacks a functional DNA-binding domain, and wild type (WT) controls treated with either oil or E2, we evaluated ERα signaling, dependent and independent of the estrogen response element (ERE), on avoidance behavior, social interactions and memory, and palatable ingestive behavior using the open field test, the elevated plus maze, the light dark box, the 3-chamber test, and palatable feeding. We found that ERα does not mediate control of anxiety-like behaviors but rather yielded differences in locomotor activity. In evaluating social preference and social recognition memory, we observed that E2 may modulate these measures in KIKO females but not KO females, suggesting that ERE-independent signaling is likely involved in sociability. Lastly, observations of palatable (high-fat) food intake suggested an increase in palatable eating behavior in oil-treated KIKO females. Oil-treated KO females had a longer latency to food intake, indicative of an anhedonic phenotype compared to oil-treated WT and KIKO females. We have observed that social-related behaviors are potentially influenced by ERE-independent ERα signaling and hedonic food intake requires signaling of ERα.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105084
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume136
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Estrogen
  • Hedonic feeding
  • Locomotion
  • Social interaction
  • Social recognition memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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