Vol 56, No 3 (2005)
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Published online: 2006-03-24

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Physiological significance of estrogens in men - breakthrough in endocrinology

Krzysztof Kula, Jolanta Słowikowska-Hilczer, Renata Walczak-Jędrzejowska, Piotr Kula, Elżbieta Oszukowska, Katarzyna Marchlewska, Jerzy Krzysztof Wranicz
Endokrynol Pol 2005;56(3):314-321.

Abstract

Estradiol (E2) is traditionally recognised as the female sex hormone. It has been believed for 40 years, that E2 didn’t exert any influence or caused impairment of the gonadal function in men. The main source of E2 in men is adipose tissue and the brain. E2 is also produced in adrenals, liver, mammary glands, hair and in male gonad. Daily production and the level of E2 in the blood in men are higher than those in postmenopausal women. At the end of the 80-ties we were first reporting that during sexual maturation E2 can be the important hormonal signal for the initiation of spermatogenesis. The traditional view about unimportant or inhibitory role of E2 in male physiology was finally refuted thanks to discovering estrogen receptors in males. In the 90-ties, transgenic mice with the lack of estrogen receptor (ER) or gene encoding enzyme aromatase, that enable the conversion of testosterone into E2, were also produced. Observations of men with inherited mutations of these genes, considerably extended our knowledge about E2 in men in stroma bones formation, inhibition of their growing, lipids metabolism and sexual maturation, the effects that were attributed to testosterone action until today. New data also points at important role of estrogens and ER in the function of the cardio-vascular system and in counteracting coronary disease in men.

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