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Showing posts with label Estrogen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Estrogen. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Elevated Prenatal Estradiol in Mothers/Babies – a protective reaction to stress that also predicts who will develop Autism? Time for Fetal Medicine?


There has been little mention in this blog about fetal medicine, but it is an area that does hold great promise.  At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, they have been surgically treating babies with spina bifida prior to their birth for nearly twenty years. Early surgical intervention to the spine even allows for malformation of the brain to be self-repaired and this is visible on MRI scans. Such prenatal treatment can be 100% successful, resulting in there being no physical disability in adulthood. 

The more you read about neuroscience the more you realize how little we really know and so encouraging the brain to self-repair may indeed be the best strategy.  This is an avenue of research and not just with stem cells.  A similar approach is proving successful in treating skin cancer, you do not attack the cancer with drugs, you modify the immune system with a drug so it "wakes up" and does its job and kills the cancer cells.

        Skin cancer: Half of people surviving advanced melanoma

Hormones are an often-ignored area of autism research, but they are they on my Venn diagram simplification of autism.



We have seen how female hormones can be highly neuroprotective and that the estradiol/testosterone balance affects a key “switch” that controls gene expression RORalpha.

Today we see that researchers in Utah suggest that stress in the developing fetus with autism causes an increase in estradiol, as a protective mechanism, and this increase in estradiol can then be measured in the mother’s blood. They propose that this elevated estradiol is an advance warning of a baby with autism.



University of Utah researchers have discovered a link between increased levels of a type of estrogen in babies in their second trimester and risk for autism, according to a new study.

The findings could eventually help doctors identify babies at risk of autism early in their mothers’ pregnancies and monitor them more closely, as well as provide early interventions to ensure the children’s well-being, said Dr. Deborah A. Bilder, the study’s first author.

Both the control group and the group of mothers whose children had autism were selected so that 50% of each group had an exposure to a condition such as gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia. Previous studies have shown links between those conditions and autism risk.

The researchers looked at several different steroids in the blood samples. Bilder said she expected to find increased levels of steroids that were known to be associated with the conditions, like testosterone. She found those steroids, but they did not reach a statistical significance, according to Bilder.

Bilder also expected progesterone and testosterone in the kids who developed autism to be elevated.

“But that’s not what I found. Instead, what I found, is estradiol being elevated in the children who developed autism,” she said.

Estradiol is a type of estrogen. Lower levels of estradiol in a baby usually indicate a concern with the baby, and high estrogen levels are not currently associated with abnormal conditions.

But as the researchers looked at the steroid hormones that were measured, “what we realized is that the higher estrogen levels being produced by the placenta actually may be stimulating the baby’s development of his or her stress response.”
Usually, a baby’s stress response takes time so that when the pregnancy reaches full term, the baby has developed its own stress response. But elevated levels of estrogen cause the baby’s stress response to develop early, Bilder said.
That prepares babies, when there is an issue, to survive outside the mom. It causes early growth of the lungs, gut and skin so that if the baby doesn’t make it all the way through pregnancy, it’s more likely to survive, she said.

The findings indicated that in the babies with autism, something set off their stress response early.

Studies have shown that children with autism have an abnormal stress response, according to Bilder. She believes the mechanism that triggers the early stress response during pregnancy may still be affecting children with autism past delivery.

Bilder doesn’t think doctors should target the higher estradiol levels or try to lower them. Instead, because it signals a “protective mechanism, that baby is surviving,” doctors should target something that doesn’t jeopardize the baby’s survival.

“By being able to have a way of looking at the baby’s well-being in that regard, I think that opens up the door to considering how can you reduce the stress on that baby?” Bilder explained.
                                                                                 
The full paper:-

Early Second Trimester Maternal Serum Steroid-Related Biomarkers Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Epidemiologic studies link increased autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk to obstetrical conditions associated with inflammation and steroid dysregulation, referred to as prenatal metabolic syndrome (PNMS). This pilot study measured steroid-related biomarkers in early second trimester maternal serum collected during the first and second trimester evaluation of risk study. ASD case and PNMS exposure status of index offspring were determined through linkage with autism registries and birth certificate records. ASD case (N = 53) and control (N = 19) groups were enriched for PNMS exposure. Higher estradiol and lower sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were significantly associated with increased ASD risk. Study findings provide preliminary evidence to link greater placental estradiol activity with ASD and support future investigations of the prenatal steroid environment in ASD.


Fig. 1 The placenta produces estradiol from DHEA of both maternal and fetal origin and shunts over 90% of estradiol into the maternal circulation. The volume of DHEA substrate determines placental estradiol production and subsequently maternal serum estradiol levels. DHEA exists primarily in its conjugated form DHEAS


This is interesting as are some other findings linking steroid hormones to future autism. Another paper highlights a mechanism where maternal stress only has damaging effects on the male fetus (Placental adaptation in response to PNMS is sex-dependent, leading to an increased risk of adverse neurodevelopmental effect in male compared to female).

This paper looks at the effect of maternal stress on serotonin and another group of hormones (Glucocorticoids).

Effects of prenatal maternal stress on serotonin and fetal development

Fetuses are exposed to many environmental perturbations that can influence their development. These factors can be easily identifiable such as drugs, chronic diseases or prenatal maternal stress. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the serotonin synthetized by the placenta was crucial for fetal brain development. Moreover, many studies show the involvement of serotonin system alteration in psychiatric disease during childhood and adulthood. This review summarizes existing studies showing that prenatal maternal stress, which induces alteration of serotonin systems (placenta and fetal brain) during a critical window of early development, could lead to alteration of fetal development and increase risks of psychiatric diseases later in life.




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         Fig. 1. Proposed mechanism of fetal programming of psychiatric disorders involving placental serotonin system. Cortisol and placental serotonin are essential for fetal brain development. Prenatal maternal stress alters glucocorticoid (11b-HSD2, GR and CRH) and serotonin (SERT, 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A) systems as well as serotonin and glucocorticoid interaction in the placenta. These placental alterations lead to adverse neurodevelopment and programming leading to psychiatric disorders later in life. Placental adaptation in response to PNMS is sex-dependent, leading to an increased risk of adverse neurodevelopmental effect in male compared to female. 11b-HSD2: Type 2 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, GR: Glucocorticoid receptor, CRH: Corticotrophin releasing hormone, SERT: Serotonin transporter, 5-HT1A: Serotonin 1A receptor, 5-HT2A: Serotonin 2A receptor


Conclusion    
         
It should be noted that estradiol is supposed to be elevated during pregnancy. Indeed, this elevation is suggested to explain why females with ADHD have far less symptoms during pregnancy (estradiol is good for ADHD). The study is highlighting a level of estradiol during pregnancy that is even higher than that normally expected.

Spina bifida is normally detected by ultrasound before 18 weeks of pregnancy. This is around the same time that in autism there appears to be elevated estradiol.  Hopefully other biomarkers will also be found.

Given this advance warning, there is potential for fetal medicine.

Only very recently was the first person in the UK treated for spina bifida using fetal surgery, almost two decades after the first operations in the US.

Fetal medicine for autism would not be surgical, rather pharmacological.  In mouse models it has already started.

Estradiol has many effects and I did write about DHED, an orally active, centrally selective estrogen and a biosynthetic prodrug of estradiol. DHED is estradiol just for the brain, without affecting the rest of the body.  I think many people would benefit from DHED, across the range from ADHD to TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

DHED, delivering Estradiol only to the Brain, also Lupron and Spironolactone


Estradiol may indeed prove to be a fetal biomarker for autism and DHED might be a useful drug for someone with autism (via ERβ and RORalpha).









Thursday, 8 February 2018

DHED, delivering Estradiol only to the Brain, also Lupron and Spironolactone










The Hungarian flag, for clever Laszlo Prokai

  

Lupron – partially right, but for the wrong reason? 

In the US there undoubtedly are some quack therapies for autism, however on occasion we have seen that you can stumble upon an effective therapy for entirely the wrong reason. In the history of medicine there are drugs that were stumbled upon, or created by accident.
In the case of the “Lupron protocol” which was promoted by a father and son (Geier and Geier), an extremely expensive therapy was apparently applied to hundreds of children, before being shut down by the medical regulators.
Without going into all the details, Geier’s therapy combined chelation (antioxidants) and a drug called Lupron that causes a dramatic reduction in testosterone levels.  In the jargon, it causes hypogonadism - diminished functional activity of the gonads (the testes in males or the ovaries in females). Lupron is another of those drugs that costs ten times more in the US than in the normal world. So a single injection of Lupron, depending on the dose,  costs up to $1000 in the US. Lupron is approved for use in children, male and female, with early onset puberty.
The case attracted media attention because Geier was also heavily involved in the idea that vaccines could cause autism and because patients were reportedly paying up to $50,000 for the complete therapy.
Geier was naturally a target for the anti-quack movement and why treat autism at all movements. He features in their books and blogs. 

Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure  (no link provided on purpose)

Still making the news in 2018.

Regulators who targeted controversial autism doctor may pay millions for humiliating him 

In this case I think Geier stumbled upon a rather extreme, partially effective therapy but for the wrong reason. I doubt such an expensive  potent drug is needed to produce the same beneficial effect, in that sub-group that appear to respond.

The fact that Lupron is so expensive in the US, may indeed contribute to the desire parents had for it.  There is a term in economics called a “Giffen good”; it is for the type of good that the more it costs the more you want it, like those very expensive hand bags people buy.

Personally I like inexpensive autism therapies, available to all.

Having read so much about autism, I am much less critical of those putting forward alternative ideas and therapies. It is very easy to get something right for entirely the wrong reason in medicine, which is something that is highly unlikely in many areas of science.

What I do not like is the predatory nature of some people with unusual ideas and therapies who treat autism. This is almost exclusively a North American phenomenon. Some parents will pay nothing to treat autism, for example some in countries with socialized medicine, while others would sell their house for a hope of an improvement.

The name Geier comes from the German word for vulture, maybe not the ideal surname for a healthcare worker.

If you read the following article from the Baltimore Sun you will see that there likely were some responders to this therapy:-

Lupron therapy for autism at center of embattled doctor's case 

"Wessels, who lives in Rock Rapids, Iowa, took Sam to see Geier in his Indianapolis office two years ago. She said there were months of genetic and hormone tests, and then the diagnosis. She began injecting Sam with Lupron daily.
She said the diagnosis made sense to her. Sam was not only having trouble communicating and difficulty learning, but he was tall for his age, had hair on his legs and began constantly masturbating by the time he was 5.
She said there was no "wow" moment where Sam snapped out of his autism, a spectrum of disorders where sufferers lack an ability to communicate and interact properly. But in the course of the next year, Sam's reading improved from 35 words a minute to 85 and he focused in class. He stopped masturbating as much.
Wessels thought Sam was naturally advancing and planned to taper the Lupron at some point — at 9, he had reached the generally accepted age limit for a precocious puberty label.
The day came abruptly four months ago when a nationwide shortage cut off Sam's supply. Wessels said she saw Sam return to his old habits, from flapping his hands, to pacing, to forgetting how to get to his classes.
"I felt like I got a glimpse of the child my son was meant to be, not the one autism gave me," said Wessels, fighting back tears. "It's so sad to watch your child fade away again."


Lupron and RORalpha

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed an entirely different reason Lupron might be beneficial in a sub-group of people with autism. It has nothing to do with vaccines and mercury-containing thimerosal preservative.

Reducing testosterone in boys is going to have effects like increasing estradiol.
















The schematic illustrates a mechanism through which the observed reduction in RORA in autistic brain may lead to increased testosterone levels through downregulation of aromatase. Through AR, testosterone negatively modulates RORA, whereas estrogen upregulates RORA through ER. 

androgen receptor = AR 
estrogen receptor = ER 

We have seen that RORA is suggested to act like a central point/nexus that affects dozens of biological processes disturbed in autism, making it a key target for therapy.



Other drugs that affect androgen receptors and are suggested in some autism?

Are there any other alternative autism therapies that affect testosterone and so androgen receptors? The answer is yes; this time a very cheap one called Spironolactone, that has been mentioned earlier in this blog.
The MAPS doctor known to some readers of this blog, Dr Rossignol, was one of the coauthors with the late Dr Bradstreet, in a hypothesis regarding Spironolactone.


Spironolactone is a potassium sparing diuretic, but also has the effect of shifting the balance between testosterone/estradiol towards estradiol, this makes it a useful therapy to treat acne for which it is sometimes prescribed. It seems to help some with autism.

I think any drug/supplement suggested to affect RORA in the right direction, will likely be reported to also improve acne, even if that sounds rather odd. If it does not improve acne, it lacks potency. Not all acne remedies will affect RORA.
In fact there are numerous ways to affect testosterone and estradiol and they are well documented on the internet because of all the males who are trying to become females (the transgender community).
Donald Trump and his personal physician declared they take a small daily dose of the drug finasteride, which is why both of them have such a full head of hair, and why Trump can brag about his low PSA result. This drug is used to treat an enlarged prostate and at a lower dosage, hair loss.  It works by decreasing the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen sex hormone, in certain parts of the body like the prostate gland and the scalp. 
Lupron might be too expensive in the US for males becoming females, but the other testosterone/estradiol modifying drugs seem to be very widely used/abused, depending on your views.

“Normal” levels of male/female hormones  
One criticism of Geier was that while he did many different tests to measure testosterone in his patients, he seemed over willing to prescribe his highly potent testosterone reducing drug. It was reportedly not the case that he only used Lupron on patients with extremely elevated levels of testosterone.
In fact what are normal levels of male/female hormones?
There does not seem to be a normal level, rather a very wide range. the charts below are in adults.


Serum total T (A) and bioavailable T (B) levels as a function of age among an age-stratified sample of Rochester men (solid lines, squares) and women (dashed lines, circles).



Serum total estrogen (A) and bioavailable estrogen (B) levels as a function of age among an age-stratified sample of Rochester men (solid lines, squares) and women (dashed lines, circles).



Affecting Testosterone/Estradiol Just in the Brain
I do sometimes receive comments asking about possible future autism drugs in the pipeline, I even once had a section called “Future Drugs”. Things move so slowly I now really only focus on repurposing what is already available.
However, a really interesting new drug, DHED, is being developed to increase the level of the hormone estradiol just in the brain. Now as regular readers will know, in autism there is a lack of estradiol and a reduction in the expression of estrogen receptor beta. We know that estradiol is highly neuroprotective and that estrogen receptors in the brain modulate RORa, which is one of those switches that control a large group of genes often disturbed in autism. So a new drug developed to help post-menopausal women has potential to be repurposed to treat neurological disorders like autism and indeed Alzheimer’s. 
Interestingly for me is that the lead researcher, a Hungarian called Laszlo Prokai, also researches another hormone, TRH, that I wrote about extensively a long ago in this blog. TRH is potentially another very useful therapy inside the brain.  
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), is a releasing hormone, produced by the hypothalamus, that stimulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin from the anterior pituitary.  Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) then goes on to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine (T4), and then triiodothyronine (T3) which stimulates the metabolism of almost every tissue in the body.
As I discovered a few years ago, TRH does much more within the brain, as a result it has antiepileptic properties and mood enhancing properties. The US Army is funding the development of a TRH nasal spray for ex-combatants with mood disorders and a risk of suicide. Antidepressants like Prozac have the odd side effect of increasing suicidal tendencies.
A TRH super-agonist (Ceredist) already exists in Japan, so I could never really understand why the US Army did not just get that drug approved by the FDA.  

More Laszlos please
The big gap in all neurological disorders is translational research, which means actually converting all the existing knowledge into usable therapies for humans.
So it looks like we need more people like Laszlo; in fact there is another - Katalin Prokai-Tatrai, I assume it is his wife.
So like we already have the very talented duo Chauhan & Chauhan, we have Prokai & Prokai. What we would ideally want is Prokai & Prokai to translate the knowledge of Chauhan & Chauhan into human therapies.
As described in one of their papers:
Our laboratory has been involved in medicinal chemistry-driven research with attention to facilitating drug delivery of central nervous system (CNS) agents via prodrug approaches.

This is important because there are clever drugs that would be useful to treat brain disorders but you cannot get them through the blood brain barrier (BBB). So making a new compound that can cross the BBB and then converts back to the original drug is a neat solution. 

Dr. Prokai's current research focuses on
(1) Novel therapies against neurodegenerative and ophthalmic diseases using site-selective prodrugs
(2) Development and use of proteomics in aging research, studying neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, with especial attention to quantitative expression profiling and oxidative stress-associated posttranslational modifications
(3) Discovering new therapeutic agents based on neuropeptides and peptidomimetics as lead molecules.

In particular:
·         Molecular mechanisms of estrogen neuroprotection

·         Molecular pharmacology of thyrotropin-releasing hormone




“10β,17β-Dihydroxyestra-1,4-dien-3-one (DHED) is an orally active, centrally selective estrogen and a biosynthetic prodrug of estradiol which was discovered by Laszlo Prokai and colleagues. Upon systemic administration, regardless of route of administration, DHED has been found to selectively and rapidly convert into estradiol in the brain, whereas no such conversion occurs in the rest of the body. Moreover, DHED itself possesses no estrogenic activity, requiring transformation into estradiol for its estrogenicity. As such, the drug shows selective estrogenic effects in the brain (e.g., alleviation of hot flashes, neuroprotection) that are said to be identical to those of estradiol, whereas it does not produce estrogenic effects elsewhere in the body.  DHED has been proposed as a possible novel estrogenic treatment for neurological and psychiatric conditions associated with hypoestrogenism (e.g., menopausal hot flashes, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke) which uniquely lacks potentially detrimental estrogenic side effects in the periphery


Highlights


·         Treatment with 10β,17β-dihydroxyestra-1,4-dien-3-one (DHED), a brain-selective prodrug of 17β-estradiol, for 8 weeks decreased amyloid precursor protein in APPswe/PS1dE9 double-transgenic mice
·         DHED treatment reduced brain amyloid-β peptide levels
·         DHED-treated APPswe/PS1dE9 double-transgenic mice had higher cognitive performance compared to untreated control animals
·         DHED treatment faithfully replicated positive neurobiochemical effects and consequent behavioral improvement observed for 17β-estradiol
·         DHED did not stimulate uterine tissue, whereas 17β-estradiol treatment did.  

By the same author Laszlo Prokai: 

Design and Exploratory Neuropharmacological Evaluation of Novel Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone Analogs and Their Brain-Targeting Bioprecursor Prodrugs

Medicinal Chemistry: Compound could lead to estrogen therapies with fewer side effects

Estrogen levels drop in the brains of women who have gone through menopause or had surgeries to remove their ovaries. This hormone deficiency can lead to hot flashes, depression, trouble sleeping, and memory deficits. Hormone replacement therapies can improve women’s quality of life, but taking estrogen has its own problems, such as increased risk of breast and uterine cancer.

A new compound could avoid the source of these side effects—the action of estrogen on cells outside the.

Laszlo Prokai of the University of North Texas Health Science Center and coworkers identified 10β,17β-dihydroxyestra-1,4-dien-3-one (DHED), which is converted to the main human estrogen, 17β-estradiol, in the brain and not elsewhere in the body. An enzyme expressed only in the brain reduces DHED to estradiol.

The researchers injected DHED into female rodents without ovaries and showed that estrogen levels jumped in the brain but not in other tissues. Then, through a series of experiments, they demonstrated that the compound had only neurological effects.

“It’s exactly the right strategy for avoiding the cancer risks and gaining the benefits in the brain,” says Bruce S. McEwen, a neuroendocrinologist at Rockefeller University. He thinks the next step is to show that the compound doesn’t have toxicity problems so that clinical trials in people can start.  The researchers are planning such studies in hopes of moving the compound “from the bench to the bedside,” Prokai says.



Why is Estradiol good for your brain?
You may be wondering why I give so much time on this blog to female hormones. There is a lot of evidence beyond RORa, that estrogen/estradiol and its receptors are very important to healthy brain function. 
The paper below is very interesting and worth a read. 

Sex hormones, particularly estrogens, possess potent antioxidant properties and play important roles in maintaining normal reproductive and non-reproductive functions. They exert neuroprotective actions and their loss during aging and natural or surgical menopause is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, synaptic decline, cognitive impairment and increased risk of age-related disorders. Moreover, loss of sex hormones has been suggested to promote an accelerated aging phenotype eventually leading to the development of brain hypometabolism, a feature often observed in menopausal women and prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although data on the relation between sex hormones and DNA repair mechanisms in the brain is still limited, various investigations have linked sex hormone levels with different DNA repair enzymes. Here, we review estrogen anti-aging and neuroprotective mechanisms, which are currently an area of intense study, together with the effect they may have on the DNA repair capacity in the brain. 
However, estrogen actions on mitochondria are not exclusively related to such mechanism. Estrogen also regulates mitochondrial functions through their classical nuclear mechanism, i.e., transcriptional regulation of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins. It is known that estrogen regulates the nuclear transcription of different proteins affecting mitochondrial function such as nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 (PCG-1). Hence, this regulation is critical for the activation of nuclear genes encoding proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis as well as in the mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes. It also regulates the transcription of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), which translocates into mitochondria and initiates transcription and replication of mtDNA

Note PCG-1 above, (a typo for PGC-1, I believe) for all those interested in treating mitochondrial dysfunction.  We saw previously that PGC-1α is a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis.
It turns out that Estrogen is key to many aspects of Mitochondria, and the paper  below from 2017 probably deserves its own post. Lack of estrogen or miss-expression of estrogen receptors in the brain is inevitably going to disrupt mitochondrial function.

Estrogens coordinate and integrate cellular metabolism and mitochondrial activities by direct and indirect mechanisms mediated by differential expression and localization of estrogen receptors (ER) in a cell-specific manner. Estrogens regulate transcription and cell signaling pathways that converge to stimulate mitochondrial function- including mitochondrial bioenergetics, mitochondrial fusion and fission, calcium homeostasis, and antioxidant defense against free radicals. Estrogens regulate nuclear gene transcription by binding and activating the classical genomic estrogen receptors α and β (ERα and ERβ) and by activating plasma membrane-associated mERα, mERβ, and G-protein coupled ER (GPER, GPER1). Localization of ERα and ERβ within mitochondria and in the mitochondrial membrane provides additional mechanisms of regulation. Here we review the mechanisms of rapid and longer-term effects of estrogens and selective ER modulators (SERMs, e.g., tamoxifen (TAM)) on mitochondrial biogenesis, morphology, and function including regulation of Nuclear Respiratory Factor-1 (NRF-1, NRF1) transcription. NRF-1 is a nuclear transcription factor that promotes transcription of mitochondrial transcription factor TFAM (mtDNA maintenance factorFA) which then regulates mtDNA-encoded genes. The nuclear effects of estrogens on gene expression directly controlling mitochondrial biogenesis, oxygen consumption, mtDNA transcription, and apoptosis are reviewed. 
Estrogens exert direct and indirect effects on mitochondrial function in a cell-specific manner through activation of membrane-initiated ERα, ER β, and GPER activity and by direct genomic binding of ERα and ERβ to regulate nuclear gene transcription. While still controversial, estrogens also activate mitochondrial localized ERα and ERβ in a celltype-dependent manner. One key nuclear gene increased by E2 is NRF-1 that regulates the transcription of nuclearencoded mitochondrial genes, including TFAM which increases transcription of mtDNA-encoded genes. Thus, E2 coordinates nuclear and mitochondrial gene transcription via NRF-1. Activation of UPRmt also activates ERα and increases NRF-1. E2 also regulates the transcription of genes regulating mitochondrial morphology, enzymes in the TCA cycle and OXPHOS pathways, and mitochondrial protein Snitrosylation. Depending on the cell type, E2 regulates mitochondrial biogenesis and bioenergetic function.   

17β-estradiol is not only a reproductive hormone that is important only in women but it is also of immense importance for development and health in men. Although there is strong evidence from both human and animal studies that estrogen is protective in various brain diseases however, its adverse effect in classic target tissues such as uterus (17β-estradiol behaves as a full agonist on both estrogen receptor (ER) isoforms) is a matter of debate. ER subtype selective ligands are valuable tools for deciphering the specific roles of ER (α and β) in physiology and diseases. These compounds have a strong potential for development as therapeutics as these initiate estrogen signaling in brain but lack the mitogenic effects in other tissues such as ovaries and breast. Moreover, the existing and newer ERsubtype selective agonists will continue to be very valuable tool for deciphering the specific roles of ERα and ERβ 

Severity of symptoms of schizophrenia is greater in males as compared to premenopausal females. Women have been shown to differ in symptom severity depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. Higher rates of relapse in women with schizophrenia are also observed during the postpartum period (low estrogens), whereas relapse is low during pregnancy (high estrogens). During menopause, women are at risk of developing a new schizophrenic illness. Additionally, premenopausal women appear to have a superior response to typical antipsychotics compared to men and postmenopausal women. Estrogen plays a protective role in women with schizophrenia. Estrogen treatment may reduce negative symptoms in schizophrenic women. Estradiol may exert neuroprotection by several mechanism that may even vary among different brain regions.


Non drug therapies:-
Overeating and smoking will increase your level of estrogen. We saw earlier that in males testosterone is converted to estradiol in fat tissue. 

Not to forget the other part of the Mediterranean Diet:-



Conclusion
Just as we saw that using high doses of antioxidants is beneficial in numerous medical conditions, where nobody calls it chelation, drugs that reduce testosterone or increase estradiol in the brain are not quack therapies, even when proposed by apparent vultures. It pays to keep an open mind.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a big business and if you can introduce a drug with less side effects, it should sell at a premium price, meaning DHED really should get commercialized.
DHED should be more effective than estradiol for treating neurological disorders because it can be given at a higher dose. In males there is no risk of feminization.
Contrary to what is sometimes quoted, estradiol lowers the risk of prostate cancer and is used to treat aggressive forms of it. High levels of testosterone are linked to prostate cancer and that is why Lupron is sometimes used.
Circulating levels of estradiol vary dramatically. People with a low level of estradiol might well be able to safely increase body-wide 17β-estradiol, rather than waiting a decade for DHED.
High levels of estrogen/estradiol in males may contribute to the extended healthy life expectancy in those with a soy-rich diet, as we will see in the forthcoming post on the Okinawan Diet and aging.



Spironolactone does have the advantage of increasing potassium levels, so someone with autism who responds to bumetanide and has high testosterone/ low estradiol and/or reduced expression of ERβ might see a benefit; I think it might require a high dose.
DHED looks interesting particularly for those with higher plasma estradiol but reduced ERβ in the brain.
I think the lady from Rock Rapids, Iowa in the earlier press report on Lupron, whose son had very hairy legs and responded to Lupron, should try some estradiol, or just get him to drink a great deal of soy milk.  This really should have a similar kind of effect.
It appears that some mitochondrial disease is linked to estradiol and estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ. DHED might be a very clever treatment to what is otherwise pretty much un-curable. So there will be a post on estrogens regulating life and death in mitochondria.
The implication is pretty simple – more estrogen/estradiol please, if you want to live a bit longer, or if your brain does not work so well.





Friday, 19 January 2018

Glass Syndrome / SATB2-associated syndrome – Osteoporosis and ERβ


The world’s longest glass bridge is in China.

Today’s post is about Glass Syndrome / SATB2-associated syndrome, it occurs when something goes wrong with a gene called SATB2; there are several variants because different mutations in this gene are possible.

Glass Syndrome / SATB2-associated syndrome is another of those single gene types of autism, so you can think of SATB2 as another autism gene.  As we will see in today’s post SATB2 is involved in much more than autism and is very relevant to osteoporosis and some types of cancer.

While autism caused by SATB2 is very rare, diseases in old age quite often involve the SATB2 gene being either over expressed or under expressed. As a result there is much more research on SATB2 than I expected.

The current research into Glass Syndrome / SATB2-associated syndrome is mainly collecting data on those affected, rather than investigating therapies. There are some links later in this post, for those who are interested.

The research into SATB2, unrelated to childhood developmental disorders, is much more science heavy and already contains some interesting findings.   

I have only made a shallow study, but it seems that you can reduce SATB2 expression with a drug called Phenytoin and potentially increase expression via an estrogen receptor beta agonist. We saw in earlier posts that an estrogen receptor beta agonist might well be helpful in broader autism.

As with other single gene types of autism, it will be important to look at all the downstream effects caused by a lack of SATB2, some of which will very likely overlap with what occurs in some idiopathic autism or with other single gene autisms.

In Johns Hopkins’ simplification of autism into either hyper-active pro growth signaling, or hypo-active, SATB2 fits into the latter. It is associated with small heads and a small corpus callosum; that is the part that joins the left side of the brain to right side.

I think it is fair to say that SATB2 is associated with partial agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC), a subject that has been covered in earlier posts.

I have mentioned two therapies recently that seem to help in certain variants of  ACC. The reason SATB2 causes partial agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) is well understood.  SATB2 needs to be expressed in the neurons that extend axons across the corpus callosum, in effect you need to build a bridge across from one side of the brain to the other and all the connections across that bridge need to match up and not be jumbled up. In some people with SATB2 they have an apparently normal corpus callosum (the bridge) but it does not work properly (the connections do not function).

SATB2 is also associated with a cleft palette, this occurs because the roof of the mouth (another bridge) does not join correctly left to right. You end up with an unwanted opening into the nose.

Building bridges is never an easy business. The Chinese have found this with their recent glass bridges, as in this post’s photo above. It looks like SATB2 is the “bridging” protein for humans, if the SATB2 gene is mutated you do not make enough of the SATB2 protein. The less SATB2 expression the more consequences there will be.

The other extreme also exists, too much SATB2 expression. That will lead to too much growth which makes it another cancer gene. In cases of aggressive prostate cancer SATB2 is over-expressed. So a therapy to slow this cancer would be to reduce SATB2 expression. For Glass Syndrome we would want the opposite. 

There is SATB2 associated syndrome research, but it is still at the stage of collecting data on people who are affected and investigating what particular mutation is present.

The logical next stage is to see more precisely the role SATB2 plays in different parts of the brain. By seeing how SATB2 interacts with the world around it, it may be possible to correct for the lack of it.  For example there is an interaction with Ctip2, a transcription factor that is necessary and sufficient for the extension of subcortical projections by cortical neurons. This look very relevant to building bridges.

Confusingly, Ctip2 is also called B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 11B encoded by the BCL11B gene. 






The research relating your bones looks the most advanced and already suggests possible therapies to both increase and reduce SATB2 expression.



The above paper (the full version is not public)  is very detailed and shows how important SATB2 may be in bone diseases and therefore be of wide clinical relevance.  It also suggests that it could be treated by gene therapy.






Molecular Regulation of SATB2 by Cytokines and Growth Factors

It appears that the anti-epileptic drug (AED) Phenytoin reduces SATB2 expression, which is the opposite of what we want, but shows that modification is possible.

Osteoporosis,  SATB2, Estrogen and ERβ
There already is much in this blog about estrogen/estradiol and estrogen receptor beta. There are was a phase in this blog when there were many comments about disturbed calcium metabolism in family members.
It appears they may be connected via SATB2.
Older people lack estrogen, particularly females, and this is associated with osteoporosis.
Very recent research shows that there is an ERβ-SATB2 pathway (ERβ = estrogen receptor beta, which is activated by estrogen). So a reduction in estrogen during aging reduces signaling along the ERβ-SATB2 pathway (making less SATB2).
We know from earlier posts that people with autism tend to have a reduced number of ERβ receptors and also a lower level of estrogen/estradiol. This might explain some of the problems readers reported with bones in their family members.
This raises the question of what happens to SATB2 expression when you add a little extra estrogen/estradiol. The implication from the Chinese study highlighted later is that this may well be one way to make more SATB2 from the non-mutated copy that you have (you likely have one mutated copy and one clean copy of this gene). This is something that should be investigated.


How to treat Glass Syndrome/SATB2?
Ideally you would use gene therapy to treat Glass Syndrome/SATB2; this will in future decades very likely be possible.  In the meantime the more old-fashioned options must be relied upon.
We know that people with partial agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) face challenges, some of which match those faced  with Glass Syndrome/SATB2. We know certain types of ACC do respond to treatment, based on research, so it would seem highly likely that treatment for  Glass Syndrome/SATB2 should be possible.
Very likely some of the myriad of treatments researched for autism may be helpful. But which ones?
The treatment proposed by Knut Wittkowski for very early intervention in idiopathic autism to alter the trajectory from severe autism towards Asperger’s looks interesting and particularly because our reader Ling finds it helpful for her daughter with SATB2. Knut’s research identified Ponstan (mefenamic acid) as a target drug to minimize the cascade of damaging events that occurs as autism progresses in early childhood.
Here you would hope that some researcher would create a mouse model of Glass Syndrome/SATB2 and then see if Ponstan (mefenamic acid) has any effect, not to mention estradiol.


Websites with Information on Glass Syndrome/ SATB2 associated syndrome 






Some Research Relating to SATB2


Satb2 is a DNA-binding protein that regulates chromatin organization and gene expression. In the developing brain, Satb2 is expressed in cortical neurons that extend axons across the corpus callosum. To assess the role of Satb2 in neurons, we analyzed mice in which the Satb2 locus was disrupted by insertion of a LacZ gene. In mutant mice, β-galactosidase-labeled axons are absent from the corpus callosum and instead descend along the corticospinal tract. Satb2 mutant neurons acquire expression of Ctip2, a transcription factor that is necessary and sufficient for the extension of subcortical projections by cortical neurons. Conversely, ectopic expression of Satb2 in neural stem cells markedly decreases Ctip2 expression. Finally, we find that Satb2 binds directly to regulatory regions of Ctip2 and induces changes in chromatin structure. These data suggest that Satb2 functions as a repressor of Ctip2 and regulatory determinant of corticocortical connections in the developing cerebral cortex.


Striatal medium spiny neurons (MSN) are critically involved in motor control, and their degeneration is a principal component of Huntington's disease. We find that the transcription factor Ctip2 (also known as Bcl11b) is central to MSN differentiation and striatal development. Within the striatum, it is expressed by all MSN, although it is excluded from essentially all striatal interneurons. In the absence of Ctip2, MSN do not fully differentiate, as demonstrated by dramatically reduced expression of a large number of MSN markers, including DARPP-32, FOXP1, Chrm4, Reelin, MOR1 (μ-opioid receptor 1), glutamate receptor 1, and Plexin-D1. Furthermore, MSN fail to aggregate into patches, resulting in severely disrupted patch-matrix organization within the striatum. Finally, heterotopic cellular aggregates invade the Ctip2−/− striatum, suggesting a failure by MSN to repel these cells in the absence of Ctip2. This is associated with abnormal dopaminergic innervation of the mutant striatum and dramatic changes in gene expression, including dysregulation of molecules involved in cellular repulsion. Together, these data indicate that Ctip2 is a critical regulator of MSN differentiation, striatal patch development, and the establishment of the cellular architecture of the striatum.







Neuroimaging. Brain abnormalities, documented in half of affected individuals who underwent head MRI, include nonspecific findings such as enlarged ventricles (12%), agenesis of the corpus callosum (5%), and prominent perivascular spaces (5%). Of interest, abnormal myelination for age and/or non-progressive white matter abnormalities appear to be particularly common (26%) in those with pathogenic nonsense, frameshift, and missense variants [Zarate & Fish 2017, Zarate et al 2017a]. Note that these findings are not sufficiently distinct to specifically suggest the diagnosis of SAS.

Other neurologic manifestations

·         Hypotonia, particularly during infancy (42%)
·         Clinical seizures (14%)
·         EEG abnormalities without clinically recognizable seizures [Zarate et al 2017a]
·         Less common neurologic issues include gait abnormalities/ataxia (17%), hypertonicity and/or spasticity (4%), and hyperreflexia (3%).



Growth restriction. Pre- and postnatal growth restriction, sometimes with associated microcephaly, can be found in individuals with SAS, particularly in those with large deletions involving SATB2 and adjacent genes (71%).

This is likely to be the most relevant paper, even though the tittle might not suggest it:-


Decline of pluripotency in bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) associated with estrogen deficiency leads to a bone formation defect in osteoporosis. Special AT-rich sequence binding protein 2 (SATB2) is crucial for maintaining stemness and osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs. However, whether SATB2 is involved in estrogen-deficiency associated-osteoporosis is largely unknown. In this study, we found that estrogen mediated pluripotency and senescence of BMSCs, primarily through estrogen receptor beta (ERβ). BMSCs from the OVX rats displayed increased senescence and weaker SATB2 expression, stemness, and osteogenic differentiation, while estrogen could rescue these phenotypes. Inhibition of ERβ or ERα confirmed that SATB2 was associated with ERβ in estrogen-mediated pluripotency and senescence of BMSCs. Furthermore, estrogen mediated the upregulation of SATB2 through the induction of ERβ binding to estrogen response elements (ERE) located at -488 of the SATB2 gene. SATB2 overexpression alleviated senescence and enhanced stemness and osteogenic differentiation of OVX-BMSCs. SATB2-modified BMSCs transplantation could prevent trabecular bone loss in an ovariectomized rat model. Collectively, our study revealed the role of SATB2 in stemness, senescence and osteogenesis of OVX-BMSCs. Collectively, these results indicate that estrogen prevents osteoporosis by promoting stemness and osteogenesis and inhibiting senescence of BMSCs through an ERβ-SATB2 pathway.

Therefore, SATB2 is a novel anti-osteoporosis target gene.

3.2 Estrogen enhanced SATB2 levels, pluripotency and alleviated senescence of OVX-BMSCs.

Estrogen has been shown to promote bone formation and proliferation both in vivo and in vitro (Wang, J. et al., 2014; Du, Z. et al., 2015; Kim, R. Y. et al., 2015), so we asked whether estrogen affected SATB2 expression, stemness and osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs. We found that both Sham-BMSCs and OVX-BMSCs treated with 10-8M estrogen (Matsumoto, Y. et al., 2013) regained the colony forming capacity as compared to the control (Fig. 2A). Higher expression levels of SATB2, Nanog, Sox2 and Oct4, were observed in BMSCs treated with estrogen relative to the control group (Fig. 2B, C). These results were further confirmed by human BMSCs (Fig. 2D). The role of estrogen on anti-senescence was verified by the decreased SA-β-gal positive cells and alleviated expression of senescence markers (Fig. 2E, F). After osteogenic induction, the expression of osteogenic markers, Runx2 and OCN, significantly increased (Fig. 2G and H). Consistently, estrogen significantly enhanced the mineralized node formation (Fig. 2I). Interestingly, the expression of osteoclast-related activator, RANKL, and inhibitor, OPG, significantly changed in OVX-BMSCs treated with estrogen (Fig. 2J).

Together, these results suggest that estrogen rescued pluripotency and alleviated senescence of OVX-BMSCs accompanied by a higher expression of SATB2.



3.4 SATB2 is a confirmed target of ERβ.  
Estrogen is known to regulate gene expression by binding to ERs, which subsequently binds to EREs present in promoters (Klinge, C. M. 2001). Analysis of 2 kb upstream and 50bp downstream of SATB2, using Promo 3.0 software, showed the presence of three putative EREs that had (achieved through site-directed mutagenesis at the ERβ binding site in the SATB2 promoter). As anticipated, ERβ overexpression induced by estrogen increased luciferase activity in wild-type but not mutant promoter region A (Fig. 4C, D). 
 Further, to check dynamic recruitment of ERβ to the EREs following estrogen treatment, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation (CHIP). CHIP analysis was conducted in OVX-BMSCs with or without estrogen treatment using antibodies specific to ERβ or IgG control. This revealed that following estrogen treatment, various putative EREs facilitated dynamic recruitment of ERβ. Furthermore, the binding of ERβ was considerably more robust in region A than other regions (Fig. 4E). Thus, the induction of SATB2 by estrogen is mediated by the binding of ERβ to various EREs present in the SATB2 promoter.

Discussion


Although it is well-known that osteoporosis due to estrogen deficiency is associated with bone loss, the detailed mechanisms underlying this are not fully understood (Liao, L. et al., 2013; Villa, A. et al., 2015; Wang, J. et al., 2016). We recently found that the expression of SATB2 was associated with ERs, especially ERβ, after estrogen treatment of BMSCs (Fig. 3A). In this study, we successfully established an ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis and showed that STAB2 was associated with estrogen-ERβ complex in OVX-BMSCs. Moreover, our data demonstrated that SATB2 was a downstream effector of ERβ. The induction of SATB2 by estrogen was mediated by binding of ERβ to various EREs present upstream of SATB2. Our study suggested the central role of SATB2 in the etiology of postmenopausal osteoporosis, suggesting it as a candidate target of osteoporosis prevention and treatment.



                                                                                                                                 


Conclusion
Our reader Ling is busy researching this syndrome and this is a good place to post comments with her findings, so others can find them later.