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Schizophr Res. 2001 Mar 1;48(1):137-44.

Estrogen - a potential treatment for schizophrenia.

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Dandenong Psychiatry Research Centre, Monash University Department of Psychological Medicine, David St., Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Melbourne, Australia.


Estrogen has been shown in animal studies to modulate both the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter systems - the main neurotransmitters implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. A double blind, 28 day, placebo-controlled study was conducted with three groups of women of child-bearing age (N=12 in each group) who received standardized antipsychotic medication plus 50mcg transdermal estradiol or 100mcg transdermal estradiol or transdermal placebo. Analyses show that women receiving 100mcg of estradiol made greater improvements in the symptoms of schizophrenia than both the 50mcg estradiol and placebo groups. Women receiving 50mcg estradiol had more improvement in their symptoms compared with the placebo group. The 100mcg estradiol group had significantly lower mean lutenizing hormone (LH) and higher mean prolactin levels across the study period compared with both the 50mcg and placebo groups. The addition of 100mcg adjunctive transdermal estrogen significantly enhanced the treatment of acute, severe psychotic symptoms in women with schizophrenia. The differential response of adding 50mcg versus 100mcg estradiol on the types of symptom affected may be related to the estrogen effect on LH and prolactin. The positive impact of estrogen treatment on psychotic symptoms by a direct effect on dopamine and serotonin systems or via an indirect prolactin-mediated effect may be very useful in the overall treatment of women with schizophrenia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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