Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

This is your brain on estrogen

Date:
October 5, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
It's no secret that women often gain weight as they get older. The sex hormone estrogen has an important, if underappreciated, role to play in those burgeoning waistlines. Now, researchers have traced those hormonal effects on metabolism to different parts of the brain. The findings may lead to the development of highly selective hormone replacement therapies that could be used to combat obesity or infertility in women without the risks for heart disease and breast cancer, the researchers say.

It's no secret that women often gain weight as they get older. The sex hormone estrogen has an important, if underappreciated, role to play in those burgeoning waistlines.

Now, researchers reporting in the October Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, have traced those hormonal effects on metabolism to different parts of the brain. The findings may lead to the development of highly selective hormone replacement therapies that could be used to combat obesity or infertility in women without the risks for heart disease and breast cancer, the researchers say.

"When women approach menopause, they gain weight in fat and their energy expenditure goes down," says Deborah Clegg of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Estrogen levels decline and women grow increasingly susceptible to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Estrogen acts on receptors found throughout the body, in fat, on ovaries and in muscle. But when it comes to the hormone's influence on metabolism, Clegg suspected receptors in the brain.

Others had traced the effects of estrogen on energy balance specifically to estrogen receptor-α (ERα). When her team deleted those receptors from the entire brains of mice, "we got very, very fat mice," Clegg said. The animals consumed more calories and burned less.

The researchers showed female mice lacking ERα in one part of the brain (the hypothalamic steroidogenic factor-1 or SF1 neurons) gained weight without eating any more. Loss of ERα from another brain area (the hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin or POMC neurons) had the opposite effect: animals ate more without gaining weight. Loss of ERα receptors in those same neurons also led to various problems in ovulation and fertility.

The findings suggest that drugs developed to specifically target estrogen receptors in the brain might offer a useful alternative to hormone replacement therapies that hit receptors throughout the body. The researchers say they would like to continue to isolate other estrogen-related effects and symptoms, for instance, on hot flashes and cognition.

"The more we know about estrogen's sites of action, the more likely it is we could develop designer hormone replacement therapies targeting tissue X, Y or Z," Clegg said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong Xu, Thekkethil P. Nedungadi, Liangru Zhu, Nasim Sobhani, Boman G. Irani, Kathryn E. Davis, Xiaorui Zhang, Fang Zou, Lana M. Gent, Lisa D. Hahner, Sohaib A. Khan, Carol F. Elias, Joel K. Elmquist, Deborah J. Clegg. Distinct Hypothalamic Neurons Mediate Estrogenic Effects on Energy Homeostasis and Reproduction. Cell Metabolism, 2011; 14 (4): 453-465 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.08.009

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "This is your brain on estrogen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123600.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, October 5). This is your brain on estrogen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123600.htm
Cell Press. "This is your brain on estrogen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123600.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Estrogen Works in the Brain to Keep Weight in Check, Study Shows

Oct. 20, 2011 A recent study found that estrogen regulates energy expenditure, appetite and body weight, while insufficient estrogen receptors in specific parts of the brain may lead to ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins