The actions of estradiol in the brain involve the interaction with growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Many cells in the brain coexpress receptors for estradiol (ERs) and IGF-I (IGF-IR) and both factors interact to regulate neural function. Several studies have shown that there is an interaction of IGF-IR and ERs in neuroprotection. Neuroprotective effects of estradiol are blocked by the inhibition of IGF-IR signaling, while the neuroprotective effects of IGF-I are blocked by the inhibition of ER signaling. These findings suggest that the neuroprotective actions of estradiol and IGF-I after brain injury depend on the coactivation of both ERs and IGF-IR in neural cells. The relationship of ERα with IGF-IR through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/glycogen synthase kinase 3β (PI3K/Akt/GSK3) signaling pathway may represent the point of convergence used by estradiol and IGF-I to cooperatively promote neuroprotection. Administration of estradiol to ovariectomized rats results in the association of ERα with IGF-IR and with components of the PI3K/Akt/GSK3 signaling pathway and in the regulation of the activity of Akt and GSK3 in the brain. Conversely, IGF-I regulates ERα transcriptional activity in neuroblastoma cells and the PI3K/Akt/GSK3 signaling pathway is involved in this effect.
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