Chronic estradiol replacement impairs performance on an operant delayed spatial alternation task in young, middle-aged, and old rats
Wang, V.C.; Neese, S.L.; Korol, D.L.; Schantz, S.L.
Hormones and Behavior 56(4): 382-390
The current study examined effects of chronic estradiol replacement on a prefrontally-mediated working memory task at different ages in a rodent model. Ovariectomized young, middle-aged, and old Long-Evans rats were given 5% or 10% 17beta-estradiol in cholesterol vehicle via Silastic implants and tested on an operant delayed spatial alternation task (DSA). The two estradiol exposed groups did not perform as well as the vehicle control group did. Deficits were present at all but the longest delay, where all groups including the vehicle control group performed poorly. Surprisingly, there was not a significant effect of age or an age by estradiol interaction, despite the fact that old rats had longer latencies to respond after both correct and incorrect lever presses. These data confirm our earlier finding that chronic estradiol treatment has an impairing effect on working memory as measured on DSA task. However, contrary to expectations, young, middle-aged and old rats were similarly impaired by chronic estradiol treatment; there were no indications of differential effects at different periods of the lifespan. Also contrary to expectations, there were no indications of a decline in DSA performance with advancing age. Overall, the results demonstrate that chronic estradiol exposure causes deficits in the DSA performance of ovariectomized female rats, not only in young adulthood, but also at older ages analogous to those at which hormone replacement therapy is commonly prescribed in humans.