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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Nov 15;249(1):76-85. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2010.08.020. Epub 2010 Aug 27.

Beneficial effect of 17β-estradiol on hyperglycemia and islet β-cell functions in a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


The modulating effect of estrogen on glucose homeostasis remains a controversial issue at present. In this study, we sought to determine the beneficial effect of 17β-estradiol (E₂) on hyperglycemia and islet β-cell functions in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected i.p. with STZ to induce a relatively mild diabetic condition. The rats were then treated with E₂ orally at 500 μg/kg body weight/day for 15 days to evaluate the modulating effect on hyperglycemia, insulin secretion, and islet β-cell proliferation. E₂ administration for 10 days significantly lowered plasma glucose levels, increased plasma insulin levels, and improved glucose tolerance by attenuating insulin response to oral glucose loading. These beneficial effects of E₂ were accompanied by increases in islet number and volume, rate of islet cell proliferation, and the amount of insulin secreted. The growth-stimulatory effect of E₂ on islet cells was linked to the functions of the estrogen receptor α. Notably, these protective effects of E₂ on diabetic conditions were basically not observed when the STZ-treated rats had a more severe degree of islet damage and hyperglycemia. Taken together, we conclude that E₂ can promote the regeneration of damaged pancreatic islets by stimulating β-cell proliferation in diabetic rats, and this effect is accompanied by improvements in glucose tolerance and a decrease in plasma glucose levels. These findings suggest that oral administration of E₂ may be beneficial in diabetic patients with an accelerated loss of islet β-cells.

Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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