Date: 04 May 2007

Of Mice and Men: The Many Guises of Estrogens

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Abstract

Models of estrogen insufficiency have revealed new and unexpected roles for estrogens in males as well as females. These models include natural mutations in the aromatase gene in humans, as well as mouse knock-outs of aromatase and the estrogen receptors, and one man with a mutation in the ERα gene. These mutations, both natural and experimental, have revealed that estrogen deficiency results in a spectrum of symptoms. These include loss of fertility and libido in both males and females; loss of bone in both males and females; a cardiovascular and cerebrovascular phenotype; development of a metabolic syndrome in both males and females, with truncal adiposity and male-specific hepatic steatosis. Most of these symptoms can be reversed or attenuated by estradiol therapy. Thus estrogen is involved in the maintenance of general physiological homeostasis in both sexes.