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Neuroprotective effects of estrogen in CNS injuries: insights from animal models

Authors Raghava N, Das BC, Ray SK

Received 5 November 2016

Accepted for publication 23 May 2017

Published 4 July 2017 Volume 2017:6 Pages 15—29

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S105134

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Dr Annabel Chen


Narayan Raghava,1 Bhaskar C Das,2 Swapan K Ray1

1Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA

Abstract: Among the estrogens that are biosynthesized in the human body, 17β-estradiol (estradiol or E2) is the most common and the best estrogen for neuroprotection in animal models of the central nervous system (CNS) injuries such as spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and ischemic brain injury (IBI). These CNS injuries are not only serious health problems, but also enormous economic burden on the patients, their families, and the society at large. Studies from animal models of these CNS injuries provide insights into the multiple neuroprotective mechanisms of E2 and also suggest the possibility of translating the therapeutic efficacy of E2 in the treatment SCI, TBI, and IBI in humans in the near future. The pathophysiology of these injuries includes loss of motor function in the limbs, arms and their extremities, cognitive deficit, and many other serious consequences including life-threatening paralysis, infection, and even death. The potential application of E2 therapy to treat the CNS injuries may become a trend as the results are showing significant therapeutic benefits of E2 for neuroprotection when administered into the animal models of SCI, TBI, and IBI. This article describes the plausible mechanisms how E2 works with or without the involvement of estrogen receptors and provides an overview of the known neuroprotective effects of E2 in these three CNS injuries in different animal models. Because activation of estrogen receptors has profound implications in maintaining and also affecting normal physiology, there are notable impediments in translating E2 therapy to the clinics for neuroprotection in CNS injuries in humans. While E2 may not yet be the sole molecule for the treatment of CNS injuries due to the controversies surrounding it, the neuroprotective effects of its metabolite and derivative or combination of E2 with another therapeutic agent are showing significant impacts in animal models that can potentially shape the new treatment strategies for these CNS injuries in humans.

Keywords: estrogen, neuroprotection, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, ischemic brain injury

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