Estrogen: an emerging regulator of insulin action and mitochondrial function

J Diabetes Res. 2015;2015:916585. doi: 10.1155/2015/916585. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Clinical trials and animal studies have revealed that loss of circulating estrogen induces rapid changes in whole body metabolism, fat distribution, and insulin action. The metabolic effects of estrogen are mediated primarily by its receptor, estrogen receptor-α; however, the detailed understanding of its mechanisms is incomplete. Recent investigations suggest that estrogen receptor-α elicits the metabolic effects of estrogen by genomic, nongenomic, and mitochondrial mechanisms that regulate insulin signaling, substrate oxidation, and energetics. This paper reviews clinical and experimental studies on the mechanisms of estrogen and the current state of knowledge regarding physiological and pathobiological influences of estrogen on metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Postmenopause
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction


  • ESR1 protein, human
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogens
  • Insulin