The diversity of sex steroid action: regulation of metabolism by estrogen signaling

    1. Jan-Åke Gustafsson1
    1. Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Novum, Karolinska Institutet, S-141 83 Huddinge, Sweden
      1Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77 204, USA
    1. (Correspondence should be addressed to M H Faulds; Email: malhed{at}


    The metabolic syndrome is a complex condition characterized by obesity, insulin resistance, decreased high-density lipoproteins, and hypertension associated with high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A major increase in the incidence of developing metabolic syndrome and related diseases is observed worldwide in association with a change toward a less active lifestyle and increased food consumption. Estrogen and the estrogen receptors (ERs) are well-known regulators of several aspects of metabolism, including glucose and lipid metabolism, and impaired estrogen signaling is associated with the development of metabolic diseases. This review will describe the key effects of estrogen signaling in metabolic and glucose sensing tissues, including the liver, pancreatic β cells, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle. The impact on metabolic processes of impaired estrogen signaling and knock out of each ER subtype will also be discussed.

    • Received in final form 6 April 2011
    • Accepted 21 April 2011
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 21 April 2011
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