Estrogen signaling in hypothalamic circuits controling reproduction

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


It is well known that many of the actions of 17β-estradiol (E2) in the central nervous system are mediated via intracellular receptor/transcription factors that interact with steroid response elements on target genes. However, there is compelling evidence for membrane steroid receptors for estrogen in hypothalamic and other brain neurons. Yet, it is not well understood how estrogen signals via membrane receptors and how these signals impact not only membrane excitability but also gene transcription in neurons that modulate GnRH neuronal excitability. Indeed, it has been known for some time that E2 can rapidly alter neuronal activity within seconds, indicating that some cellular effects can occur via membrane delimited events. In addition, E2 can affect second messenger systems including calcium mobilization and a plethora of kinases to alter cell signaling. Therefore, this review will consider our current knowledge of rapid membrane-initiated and intracellular signaling by E2 in hypothalamic neurons critical for reproductive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Dec 10 2010


  • 17β-estradiol (E2)
  • Estrogen receptor-α (ERα)
  • Membrane E2 receptor (mER)
  • Proopiomelanocortin (POMC)
  • γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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