A Potential Interaction Between Homocysteic Acid and Estrogen on Behavior in Rats

Student Author(s)

Lize Loubser
Shirly Samuel

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Christopher Barney

Document Type


Event Date



Homocysteic acid (HCA) is a neurotoxin that can over stimulate NMDA receptors, leading to neuronal cell death. In humans, hyperhomocystemia, which can lead to elevated HCA levels, has been associated with a host of mental disorders, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, and potentially Major Depressive Disorder. The purpose of the current study was to determine if estrogen altered the behavioral response to HCA or has behavioral effects on its own. Rats were treated with HCA for 2 weeks starting on day two after birth and then ovariectomized at 6.5 weeks of age. Half of the HCA treated and half of the control rats were given estrogen implants. Behavioral testing began three weeks later. There was a significant effect of estrogen in the Open Field Test, Elevated Plus Maze, Tail Flick Test, Rotarod Test, Sucrose Preference Test, Force Swim Test, and Wheel Running Test. There were significant effects of HCA in the Elevated Plus Maze and Open Field Test, Rotarod Test, and Morris Water Maze, and there were significant interactions between HCA and Estrogen in the Open Field Test. This experiment demonstrated that numerous behaviors in rats are estrogen dependent but behavioral responses to HCA are not very estrogen dependent.


This research was supported by the Walker-Barr Science Summer Research Fund.

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