Definition of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the tissue-selective agonist/antagonist activities of selective estrogen receptor modulators

Recent Prog Horm Res. 2002;57:295-316. doi: 10.1210/rp.57.1.295.


The term selective estrogen receptor modulators describes a group of pharmaceuticals that function as estrogen receptor (ER) agonists in some tissues but that oppose estrogen action in others. Although the name for this class of drugs has been adopted only recently, the concept is not new, as compounds exhibiting tissue-selective ER agonist/antagonist properties have been around for nearly 40 years. What is new is the idea that it may be possible to capitalize on the paradoxical activities of these drugs and develop them as target organ-selective ER agonists for the treatment of osteoporosis and other estrogenopathies. This realization has provided the impetus for research in this area, the progress of which is discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Estrogen / chemistry
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / metabolism
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Tamoxifen