The consolidation of long-term memory is influenced by various neuromodulators. One of these is estradiol, a steroid hormone that is synthesized both in peripheral endocrine tissue and in the brain, including the hippocampus. Here, we examine the evidence regarding the role of estradiol in the hippocampus, specifically, in memory formation and its effects on the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity. We conclude that estradiol improves memory consolidation and, thereby, long-term memory. Previous studies have shown that it does this in three, interconnected ways: (1) via functional changes in excitatory activity, (2) signaling changes in calcium dynamics, protein phosphorylation and protein expression, and (3) structural changes to synaptic morphology. Through a functional network analysis of proteins affected by estradiol, we identify potential protein-protein interactions that further support a role for estradiol in modulating synaptic plasticity as well as highlight signaling pathways that may be involved in these changes within the hippocampus.
- Synaptic plasticity