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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2000 Apr;20(4):631-52.

Estrogen as a neuroprotectant in stroke.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Recent evidence suggests that reproductive steroids are important players in shaping stroke outcome and cerebrovascular pathophysiologic features. Although women are at lower risk for stroke than men, this native protection is lost in the postmenopausal years. Therefore, aging women sustain a large burden for stroke, contrary to a popular misconception that cancer is the main killer of women. Further, the value of hormone replacement therapy in stroke prevention or in improving outcome remains controversial. Estrogen has been the best studied of the sex steroids in both laboratory and clinical settings and is considered increasingly to be an endogenous neuroprotective agent. A growing number of studies demonstrate that exogenous estradiol reduces tissue damage resulting from experimental ischemic stroke in both sexes. This new concept suggests that dissecting interactions between estrogen and cerebral ischemia will yield novel insights into generalized cellular mechanisms of injury. Less is known about estrogen's undesirable effects in brain, for example, the potential for increasing seizure susceptibility and migraine. This review summarizes gender-specific aspects of clinical and experimental stroke and results of estrogen treatment on outcome in animal models of cerebral ischemia, and briefly discusses potential vascular and parenchymal mechanisms by which estrogen salvages brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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