Glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus play key roles in menopausal hot flashes
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
During menopause, when estrogen levels are low, abnormalities in the hypothalamic preoptic area (POA) of the thermoregulatory center can cause hot flashes. However, the involved neural population has not been identified. Proteomics showed that under low estrogen, differentially expressed proteins in the hypothalamus were associated with glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. RNAscope, Western blotting and qRT-PCR indicated that the number of glutamatergic neurons in the POA was decreased, while
... he number of GABAergic neurons was increased. Chemogenetics showed that the rat body temperature decreased slowly after glutamatergic neurons were activated and increased quickly after glutamatergic neurons were inhibited, while it increased quickly after GABAergic neurons were activated and decreased slowly after GABAergic neurons were inhibited. RNAscope, immunofluorescence, Western blotting and qRT-PCR further showed that glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) 1 expression in the POA was increased, while GAD2 expression in the POA was decreased; that thermosensitive transient receptor potential protein (ThermoTRP) M (TRPM) 2 expression in glutamatergic neurons was decreased, while TRPM8 expression in GABAergic neurons was increased; and that estrogen receptor (ER) α and β expression in the POA was decreased, and ERα and ERβ expressed in both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons. Estrogen therapy corrected these abnormalities. In addition, CUT&Tag and Western blot after injection of agonists and inhibitors of ERs showed that ERα and ERβ were both transcription factors in glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. Mechanistically, during menopause, estrogen may regulate the transcription and expression of GADs and ThermoTRPs through ERs, impacting the number and function of glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, resulting in unbalanced heat dissipation and production in the POA and ultimately triggering hot flashes.