The role of BDNF in progesterone and estradiol effects on cell proliferation, survival and cell fate in the dentate gyrus of adult female rats following contusion

Research has revealed that adult humans and all other mammals are unique in their ability to generate new brain cells as part of a process called neurogenesis. After a traumatic injury, estrogen and progesterone (female steroid hormones) and the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) protein help the brain recover. Jennifer Wide’s Masters research focused on the interaction between estrogen and neurogenesis, and in particular, the effects of chronic estradiol treatment on neurogenesis. Based on previous research, she hypothesized that changes in neural structure affect cognition, such as through working memory (also known as short-term memory). She studied, therefore, the effects of estradiol treatment on acquisition and reacquisition of working memory. The research demonstrated that chronic estradiol treatment has a significant differential effect on working memory, especially in low doses. Increasing understanding of neurogenesis will bring researchers closer to the goal of replacing lost cells throughout the brain and have a major impact on neurotrama and neurophsychiatric disorders.