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Annu Rev Physiol. 2004;66:291-313.

Estrogens in the nervous system: mechanisms and nonreproductive functions.

Author information

1
University of Milan, Department of Pharmacological Sciences and Center of Excellence on Neurodegenerative Diseases, Via Balzaretti 920129 Milan, Italy. adriana.maggi@unimi.it

Abstract

The past decade has witnessed a growing interest in estrogens and their activity in the central nervous system, which was originally believed to be restricted to the control of reproduction. It is now well accepted that estrogens modulate the activity of all types of neural cells through a multiplicity of mechanisms. Estrogens, by binding to two cognate receptors ERalpha and ERbeta, may interact with selected promoters to initiate the synthesis of target proteins. Alternatively, the hormone receptor complex may interfere with intracellular signaling at both cytoplasmic and nuclear levels. The generation of cellular and animal models, combined with clinical and epidemiological studies, has allowed us to appreciate the neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects of estrogens. These findings are of major interest because estradiol might become an important therapeutic agent to maintain neural functions during aging and in selected neural diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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