Oestrogen receptor-β and neurohypophysial hormones: Functional interaction and neuroanatomical localisation

M. L. Forsling, I. Kalló, D. E. Hartley, L. Heinze, R. Ladek, C. W. Coen, S. E. File

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Oestrogens affect fluid balance, influencing both ingestive behaviour and renal excretion. The renal effects are partly due to altered release of vasopressin and oxytocin. This study was designed to explore the role of oestrogen receptor-β (ERβ) in neurohypophysial hormonal function. Following dietary administration, soya isoflavones reach the brain in sufficient concentration to activate ERβ, but not oestrogen receptor-α (ERα). ERβ function was therefore manipulated by feeding rat diets differing in soya isoflavone content. Fluid balance and neurohypophysial hormone release were measured in male rats maintained for 14 days on a soya isoflavone-free diet or one containing 150 μg/g genistein+daidzein. Food and water intake, body weight, urine flow, osmolality and sodium concentrations were determined daily. After 14 days, plasma and urine osmolality and sodium, vasopressin and oxytocin concentrations were determined. There was no significant difference in weight gain between the two groups or in their excretion of sodium and water or plasma sodium and plasma oxytocin. However, plasma vasopressin was significantly lower in the iso-free group. Double-label immunocytochemistry was used to assess colocalisation of ERβ with the neurohypophysial hormones in male rats. Cell nuclei showing ERβ immunoreactivity were abundant in the posterior magnocellular paraventricular nucleus (PVNpm) and in the supraoptic nucleus (SON). Vasopressin-immunoreactive neurones were similarly distributed, forming the core of the PVNpm and the ventral portion of the SON; majority were positive for ERβ. Cells with oxytocin immunoreactivity were located mainly at the periphery of the PVNpm and in the dorsal SON; only approximately a quarter of these cells showed ERβ immunoreactivity. Thus, the difference in the effects of the soya diet on vasopressin and oxytocin release may be related to the ERβ-activating properties of this diet and to the preponderance of this receptor in vasopressin as opposed to oxytocin cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-542
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Oestrogen receptor-β
  • Oxytocin
  • Paraventricular nucleus
  • Soya isoflavone
  • Supraoptic nucleus
  • Vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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