Prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle in aromatase knock-out mice: effects of age and gender Academic Article uri icon


  • Estrogen has been suggested to play a neuromodulatory and neuroprotective role on the brain dopamine system. We used aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice that lack a functional aromatase enzyme and are unable to convert testosterone into estrogen, and assessed prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle, locomotor hyperactivity to amphetamine treatment and rotarod performance. Mice were tested at either 1 month, 4-5 months or 12-18 months of age. In male, but not female ArKO mice, there was an age-related reduction of prepulse inhibition. The 12-18 months old male ArKO mice also showed significantly greater amphetamine-induced hyperactivity. Mice heterozygous for the mutation showed no deficits or were in-between wildtype mice and ArKO mice. We postulate that these data indicate a neuroprotective role of estrogen, particularly in male mice, on ageing of brain mechanisms involved in pre-pulse inhibition and locomotor activity regulation. It is likely that these brain mechanisms are or include dopaminergic activity.

publication date

  • April 2003