In the present experiment we evaluated the dose-response effects of estrogen (estradiol benzoate; EB) and tamoxifen (TMX) in modulating the acute behavioral and chronic effects of methamphetamine (MA) upon the nigrostriatal dopaminergic (NSDA) system in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. EB over a range of doses from 1–40 µg resulted in a neuroprotective effect upon the NSDA system as defined by both a preservation of striatal dopamine (DA) concentrations and a decrease in DOPAC/DA ratios. Interestingly, the neuroprotective effect of the 1-µg EB dose occurred in the absence of any statistically significant effect upon the bioassay parameter of uterine weight. With the exception of an increase in stereotypy time as a response to the 40-µg dose, EB at any of the doses tested failed to alter any acute behavioral responses evoked by MA. In response to TMX, a statistically significant NSDA neuroprotectant response was obtained for DOPAC/DA ratios, but not DA concentrations, to doses ranging from 12.5 to 500 µg. No statistically significant effects upon uterine weights were obtained for any of the doses of TMX tested. Behaviorally, TMX at 500 µg had the effect of increasing the amount of time spent in the center of the cage. Taken together these results demonstrate: (1) EB and TMX at relatively low doses can exert a neuroprotective effect against MA; (2) these neuroprotective effects of EB and TMX can occur in the absence of an effect upon the bioassay parameter – uterine weights; (3) the parameter of DOPAC/DA ratio may indicate a more sensitive index of NSDA neuroprotection, and (4) modulatory effects of EB and TMX upon acute behavioral responses of the NSDA system to MA can be distinguished from their neuroprotective actions.
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