Estrogen and the aging brain: An elixir for the weary cortical network

Dani Dumitriu, Peter R. Rapp, Bruce S. McEwen, John Morrison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

70 Scopus citations


The surprising discovery in 1990 that estrogen modulates hippocampal structural plasticity launched a whole new field of scientific inquiry. Over the past two decades, estrogen-induced spinogenesis has been described in several brain areas involved in cognition in a number of species, in both sexes and on multiple time scales. Exploration into the interaction between estrogen and aging has illuminated some of the hormone's neuroprotective effects, most notably on age-related cognitive decline in nonhuman primates. Although there is still much to be learned about the mechanisms by which estrogen exerts its actions, key components of the signal transduction pathways are beginning to be elucidated and nongenomic actions via membrane bound estrogen receptors are of particular interest. Future studies are focused on identifying the most clinically relevant hormone treatment, as well as the potential identification of new therapeutics that can prevent or reverse age-related cognitive impairment by intercepting specific signal transduction pathways initiated by estrogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReproductive Aging
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781573317757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • aging
  • cognition
  • dendritic spines
  • estrogen
  • hippocampus
  • prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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