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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Estrogen replacement modulates voltage-gated potassium channels in rat presympathetic paraventricular nucleus neurons

Seul Ki Lee, Pan Dong Ryu and So Yeong Lee*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Veterinary Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Research Institute for Veterinary Science, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, 151-742, Seoul, Korea

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BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:134  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-134

Published: 4 November 2013



The hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is an important site in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system. Specifically, PVN neurons projecting to the rostral ventrolateral medulla (PVN-RVLM) play a regulatory role in the determination of the sympathetic outflow in the cardiovascular system. In the PVN-RVLM neurons, the estrogen receptor β is expressed. However, to date, the effects of estrogen on PVN-RVLM neurons have not been reported. The present study investigated estrogen-mediated modulation of two voltage-gated potassium channel (Kv) subunits, Kv4.2 and Kv4.3, that are expressed predominantly in PVN neurons and the functional current of Kv4.2 and Kv4.3, the transient outward potassium current (IA).


Single-cell real-time RT-PCR analysis showed that 17β-estradiol (E2) replacement (once daily for 4 days) selectively down-regulated Kv4.2 mRNA levels in the PVN-RVLM neurons of ovariectomized female rats. There was no change in Kv4.3 levels. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings demonstrated that E2 also diminished IA densities. Interestingly, these effects were most apparent in the dorsal cap parvocellular subdivision of the PVN. E2 also shortened a delay in the excitation of the PVN-RVLM neurons.


These findings demonstrate that E2 exerts an inhibitory effect on the functions of IA, potentially by selectively down-regulating Kv4.2 but not Kv4.3 in PVN-RVLM neurons distributed in a specific parvocellular subdivision.

Estrogen; PVN-RVLM neuron; Kv4.2; Transient outward potassium current