Changes in proinflammatory cytokine activity after menopause

Endocr Rev. 2002 Feb;23(1):90-119. doi: 10.1210/edrv.23.1.0456.


There is now a large body of evidence suggesting that the decline in ovarian function with menopause is associated with spontaneous increases in proinflammatory cytokines. The cytokines that have obtained the most attention are IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha. The exact mechanisms by which estrogen interferes with cytokine activity are still incompletely known but may potentially include interactions of the ER with other transcription factors, modulation of nitric oxide activity, antioxidative effects, plasma membrane actions, and changes in immune cell function. Experimental and clinical studies strongly support a link between the increased state of proinflammatory cytokine activity and postmenopausal bone loss. Preliminary evidence suggests that these changes also might be relevant to vascular homeostasis and the development of atherosclerosis. Better knowledge of the mechanisms and the time course of these interactions may open new avenues for the prevention and treatment of some of the most prevalent and important disorders in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Menopause / metabolism*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / physiopathology
  • Preventive Medicine / methods
  • Progesterone / physiology


  • Androgens
  • Cytokines
  • Estrogens
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Progesterone