Authors:F. E. Nieto-Fernandez, F. Ianuzzi, Adriana Ruiz, and Lilian Nodimele
The vertebrate system of steroid hormones appears to have been conserved widely throughout the animal kingdom. The sex hormone estrogen, 17-ß-estradiol (E2), long considered to be exclusively a vertebrate hormone, is found also in invertebrates related to reproductive and developmental processes such as spawning, vitellogenesis and molting. These processes are affected by estrogen induced changes at the genomic level and take place at a large time scale. The discovery of surface membrane receptors for E2 has opened new possibilities for the involvement of estrogen in biological functions other than reproductive. These processes take place within a few seconds to minutes and involve sudden cytosolic calcium transients, activation of adenylate cyclase or activation of phospholipase C (PLC). E2 can modulate the production of nitric oxide (NO) in endotheliar and other cells. A similar mechanism linking estrogen to cNOS catalized nitric oxide (NO) release is reported herein for the first time in several tissues of the giant cockroach Blaberus craniifer. This process has been identified in the brain, nerve cord, vasculature and ovaries. This effect is concentration dependent and is inhibited by tamoxifen an estrogen receptor blocker.