Potential Role of Oestrogen Modulation in the Treatment of Neurocognitive Deficits in Schizophrenia

CNS Drugs. 2016 Feb;30(2):125-33. doi: 10.1007/s40263-016-0312-0.


Cognitive deficits are prevalent in schizophrenia, and these deficits represent a disabling aspect of the illness for which there are no current effective treatments. Recent work has shown that sex hormone levels correlate with brain activity and cognitive abilities differentially in patients with schizophrenia relative to healthy control groups. There is emerging evidence suggesting that oestrogen-based therapies may be useful in reversing the cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. To date, the results from clinical trials using oestrogen-based therapies to reverse cognitive impairment in schizophrenia have shown that the selective oestrogen receptor modulator raloxifene may be useful to improve attention, memory, learning and the associated brain activity in chronically ill men and women with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. While these findings of cognitive enhancement with a selective oestrogen receptor modulator in people with schizophrenia are encouraging, additional studies will be required to replicate the initial results, assess the time frame of treatment effects, identify biomarkers in subsets of patients who may be more likely to optimally respond to treatment, and identify a more precise mechanism of action, which may include anti-inflammatory effects of oestrogen-based treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*


  • Estrogens
  • Psychotropic Drugs