Critical role of estrogen in the progression of chronic liver diseases

Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2020 Oct;19(5):429-434. doi: 10.1016/j.hbpd.2020.03.011. Epub 2020 Apr 8.


Background: Estrogens regulate sexual function and also have a significant role in various pathophysiological processes. Estrogens have a non-reproductive role as the modulators of the immune system, growth, neuronal function, and metabolism. Estrogen receptors are expressed in the liver and their impaired expression and function are implicated with obesity and liver associated metabolic dysfunctions. The purpose of the current review is to discuss the disparity role of estrogens on several forms of liver diseases.

Data sources: A comprehensive search in PubMed and EMBASE was conducted using the keywords "estrogens and liver diseases", "estradiol and liver diseases", "hormones and liver diseases", "endocrine function in liver diseases", and "female hormones in liver diseases". Relevant papers published before September 30, 2019 were included.

Results: The present review confirms the imperative role of estrogen in various forms of chronic liver diseases. Estrogens play a key role in maintaining homeostasis and make the liver less susceptible to several forms of chronic liver diseases in healthy premenopausal individuals. In contrast, clinical studies also showed increased estrogen levels with chronic liver diseases.

Conclusions: Several studies reported the protective role of estrogens in chronic liver diseases and this has been widely accepted and confirmed in experimental studies using ovariectomized rat models. However, in a few clinical studies, increased estrogen levels are also implicated in chronic liver diseases. Therefore, further studies are warranted at molecular level to explore the role of estrogen in various forms of chronic liver diseases.

Keywords: Chronic liver diseases; Estrogen; Hepatic fibrosis; Hepatic stellate cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / metabolism
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Ovariectomy
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen