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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 May 25;304(1-2):63-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2009.02.016. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

The pancreatic beta-cell as a target of estrogens and xenoestrogens: Implications for blood glucose homeostasis and diabetes.

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  • 1Instituto de Bioingeniería and CIBER de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Alicante, Spain. nadal@umh.es


The estrogen receptor ERalpha is emerging as a key molecule involved in glucose and lipid metabolism. The main functions of pancreatic beta-cells are the biosynthesis and release of insulin, the only hormone that can directly decrease blood glucose levels. Estrogen receptors ERalpha and ERbeta exist in beta-cells. The role of ERbeta is still unknown, yet ERalpha plays an important role in the regulation of insulin biosynthesis, insulin secretion and beta-cell survival. Activation of ERalpha by 17beta-estradiol (E2) and the environmental estrogen bisphenol-A (BPA) promotes an increase of insulin biosynthesis through a non-classical estrogen-activated pathway that involves phosphorylation of ERK1/2. The activation of ERalpha by physiological concentrations of E2 may play an important role in the adaptation of the endocrine pancreas to pregnancy. However, if ERalpha is over stimulated by an excess of E2 or the action of an environmental estrogen such as BPA, it will produce an excessive insulin signaling. This may provoke insulin resistance in the liver and muscle, as well as beta-cell exhaustion and therefore, it may contribute to the development of type II diabetes.

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