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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1999 Nov;20(11):441-4.

The female sex hormone oestrogen as a neuroprotectant.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstr. 2-10, 80804 Munich, Germany.


It is well recognized that oestrogen regulates sex differentiation and maturation of sex organs via binding to specific intracellular receptors. However, oestrogen receptors (ERs) are expressed in a variety of other tissues, including the nervous system, which suggests that oestrogen's effects are not limited to primary and secondary sex organs. Increasing evidence supports the role of oestrogen as a neuroprotective compound that can act dependently or independently of ER activation; oestrogen has recently been shown to exhibit intrinsic antioxidant activity that is ER independent. Thus, oestrogen might represent a potential 'chemical shield' for neurones. In this article, some recent advances in the elucidation of oestrogen's beneficial activities on nerve cell survival are discussed.

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