Progress in the molecular understanding of central regulation of body weight by estrogens

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 May;23(5):919-26. doi: 10.1002/oby.21099. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Objective: Estrogens can act in the brain to prevent body weight gain. Tremendous research efforts have been focused on estrogen physiology in the brain in the context of body weight control; estrogen receptors and the related signals have been attractive targets for development of new obesity therapies. The objective is to review recent findings on these aspects.

Methods: Recent studies that used conventional and conditional knockout mouse strains to delineate the cellular and molecular mechanisms for the beneficial effects of estrogens on body weight balance are reviewed. Emerging genetic tools that could further benefit the field of estrogen research and a newly developed estrogen-based regimen that produces body weight-lowering benefits also are discussed.

Results: The body weight-lowering effects of estrogens are mediated by multiple forms of estrogen receptors in different brain regions through distinct but coordinated mechanisms. Both rapid signals and "classic" nuclear receptor actions of estrogen receptors appear to contribute to estrogenic regulation of body weight.

Conclusions: Estrogen receptors and associated signal networks are potential targets for obesity treatment, and further investigations are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen