Electrophysiological and cellular effects of estrogen on neuronal function

Catherine S Woolley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Estrogen exerts a variety of electrophysiological, neurotrophic, and metabolic effects on neurons in the adult central nervous system. Recent epidemiological studies have suggested that estrogen, as hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women, may be protective against Alzheimer's disease; the biological basis for a potential neuroprotective effect of estrogen in humans is an area of intense current research. This review summarizes electrophysiological and cellular effects of estrogen on neuronal function, with particular emphasis on hypothalamic and hippocampal neurons. Classic electrophysiological studies are compared with more recent cellular and molecular analyses in an effort to illuminate significant relationships between data gathered over the last 30 years and from varied sources. Hypotheses are made for the mechanisms of estrogen action in the brain as well as the functional consequences of estrogen's effects for both normal brain function and pathological states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Reviews in Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Estrous cycle
  • Hippocampus
  • Hypothalamus
  • Seizure
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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