Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Heidi Day

Second Advisor

Steven Maier

Third Advisor

Pei-San Tsai


Estrogen’s role in neuroinflammation has been increasingly investigated in recent years, giving rise to evidence of its anti-inflammatory properties. Depletion of estrogen from female rats by ovariectomy had detrimental effects on immune functioning, including an increase in mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1b, TNF-a and IL-6 in whole hippocampal tissue and an increase in expression of IL-1b and TNF-a in isolated microglia cells following treatment with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). However, estradiol administration following ovariectomy reversed this effect. Ovariectomy did not produce deficits in fear conditioning response, regardless of LPS or saline administration. The precise mechanisms by which estrogen exerts its anti-inflammatory actions is unknown. Additionally, the specific cell types responsible for mediating estrogen’s effects are unknown, though these results suggest a role for microglia and possibly another neuronal cell type. Uncovering estrogen’s precise role in inflammation may allow for novel treatment of inflammatory or sexually dimorphic conditions with currently limited treatment options.