Membrane estradiol signaling in the brain

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2009 Aug;30(3):315-27. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2009.04.011. Epub 2009 May 4.


While the physiology of membrane-initiated estradiol signaling in the nervous system has remained elusive, a great deal of progress has been made toward understanding the activation of cell signaling. Membrane-initiated estradiol signaling activates G proteins and their downstream cascades, but the identity of membrane receptors and the proximal signaling mechanism(s) have been more difficult to elucidate. Mounting evidence suggests that classical intracellular estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) and ERbeta are trafficked to the membrane to mediate estradiol cell signaling. Moreover, an interaction of membrane ERalpha and ERbeta with metabotropic glutamate receptors has been identified that explains the pleomorphic actions of membrane-initiated estradiol signaling. This review focuses on the mechanism of actions initiated by membrane estradiol receptors and discusses the role of scaffold proteins and signaling cascades involved in the regulation of nociception, sexual receptivity and the synthesis of neuroprogesterone, an important component in the central nervous system signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Estradiol