What are the physiological estrogens?

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Baker, M. E.
Year of Publication: 2013
Journal: Steroids
Volume: 78
Edition: 2013/01/15
Number: 3
Pagination: 337-40
Date Published: Mar
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 1878-5867 (Electronic)00
Accession Number: 23313336
Keywords: Androstenediol/chemistry/metabolism/pharmacology, Animals, Bone and Bones/drug effects/physiology, Brain/drug effects/physiology, Estradiol/chemistry/metabolism/pharmacology, Estriol/chemistry/metabolism/pharmacology, Estrogen Receptor alpha/*genetics/met

Estradiol (E2) is the principal physiological estrogen in mammals. E2 and its active metabolites, estrone and estriol have a characteristic phenolic A ring, unlike progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and aldosterone, which have an A ring containing a C3-ketone, a Delta(4) bond and a C19 methyl group. Crystal structures of E2 in the estrogen receptor (ER) confirm the importance of the A ring in stabilizing E2 in the ER. However, other steroids, including Delta(5)-androstenediol, 5alpha-androstanediol and 27-hydroxycholesterol, which have a saturated A ring containing a 3beta-hydroxyl and a C19 methyl group, also mediate physiological responses through binding to estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) and ERbeta. Moreover, selective estrogen response modulators (SERMs) with diverse structures also regulate transcription of ERalpha and ERbeta. Our understanding of the physiological responses mediated by these "alternative" estrogens is in its infancy. Further studies of the role of these steroids and SERMs in regulating responses mediated by ERalpha and ERbeta a variety of tissues, during different stages of development, are likely to uncover additional estrogenic activities.


Steroids. 2013 Mar;78(3):337-40. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2012.12.011. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Alternate Journal: Steroids
Author Address:

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0693, USA. mbaker@ucsd.edu