Neuroprotective effects of 17β-estradiol rely on estrogen receptor membrane initiated signals

Marco Fiocchetti, Paolo Ascenzi, Maria Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Besides its crucial role in many physiological events, 17β-estradiol (E2) exerts protective effects in the central nervous system. The E2 effects are not restricted to the brain areas related with the control of reproductive function, but rather are widespread throughout the developing and the adult brain. E2 actions are mediated through estrogen receptors (i.e., ERα and ERβ) belonging to the nuclear receptor super-family. As members of the ligand-regulated transcription factor family, classically, the actions of ERs in the brain were thought to mediate only the E2 long-term transcriptional effects. However, a growing body of evidence highlighted rapid, membrane initiated E2 effects in the brain that are independent of ER transcriptional activities and are involved in E2-induced neuroprotection. The aim of this review is to focus on the rapid effects of E2 in the brain highlighting the specific role of the signaling pathway(s) of the ERβ subtype in the neuroprotective actions of E2.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 73
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume3 APR
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • 17β-estradiol
  • Estrogen receptor α
  • Estrogen receptor β
  • Membrane initiated signals
  • Neuroprotective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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