Integrative Biology of Women’s Health

pp 35-51


Estrogen Effects on Skeletal Muscle

  • Marybeth BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Therapy, University of Missouri Email author 

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In the past several decades the importance of the sex hormone estrogen for the overall health and well-being of skeletal muscle has become apparent, particularly for women, but also in men. In the early 1990s an article appeared indicating that skeletal muscle may be an estrogen (E2) target and that E2 impacted muscle strength. This seminal article was published by Phillips et al. [1] and indicated that women who were on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) through the menopause maintained the strength (force/muscle mass) of their adductor pollicis muscle compared with women who were not on HRT. Findings suggested that E2 provided a protective effect on muscle strength loss with aging that was maintained until women were approximately 70 years of age. Since that time hundreds of studies have been conducted and our understanding of E2 effects on skeletal muscle has grown substantially. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize recent findings on known E2 effects on skeletal muscle but also indicate some of the questions that remain.