Similarities between actions of estrogen and BDNF in the hippocampus: coincidence or clue?

Trends Neurosci. 2005 Feb;28(2):79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.12.005.


The principal ovarian estrogen, estradiol, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have widespread effects on the CNS that have usually been studied independently. This article examines the similarities in the effects of estradiol and BDNF in the hippocampus, in light of the evidence that estradiol can induce BDNF expression, and recent data suggesting that structural and electrophysiological effects of estradiol in the hippocampus might be mediated by BDNF. The possible role of BDNF as a signaling molecule downstream of estrogen in the hippocampus has implications for our understanding of several cellular and behavioral hippocampal functions, including dendritic and synaptic plasticity, learning and cognitive behavior. Furthermore, disruption of the relationship between estrogen and BDNF could contribute to neurological and psychiatric disorders that have been associated with the hippocampus, such as Alzheimer's disease, depression and epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology*
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Sex Factors
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Estrogens