The cerebellar Purkinje cell is a major site for neurosteroid formation. We have demonstrated recently that the Purkinje cell actively produces sex steroids, such as estradiol and progesterone, de novo from cholesterol only during rat neonatal life, when cerebellar cortical formation occurs. We have further demonstrated that both estradiol and progesterone promote the growth of Purkinje cells through intranuclear receptor-mediated mechanisms during cerebellar development. On the other hand, environmental estrogens, such as octylphenol (OP), bisphenol A (BPA), and nonylphenol (NP) are thought to mimic the action of estrogen in the developing central nervous system. Therefore, in this study, the effect of these environmental estrogens on the growth of Purkinje cells was examined in vivo using newborn rats. OP and BPA promoted a dose-dependent dendritic outgrowth of the Purkinje cell but did not affect its soma and cell number. The stimulatory effect of OP and BPA on Purkinje dendritic growth was induced by an injection of 500 μg/day into the cerebrospinal fluid for 4 days and blocked by the estrogen receptor antagonist tamoxifen. However, there was no significant effect of NP on any Purkinje cell morphology. These results suggest that the environmental estrogens, OP and BPA, promote Purkinje dendritic growth during neonatal life. This effect may be mediated by estrogen receptor in the Purkinje cell.
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