The neuroprotective effects of estrogen and estrogenic compounds in spinal cord injury

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2023 Mar:146:105074. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2023.105074. Epub 2023 Feb 2.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the spinal cord is damaged from either a traumatic event or disease. SCI is characterised by multiple injury phases that affect the transmission of sensory and motor signals and lead to temporary or long-term functional deficits. There are few treatments for SCI. Estrogens and estrogenic compounds, however, may effectively mitigate the effects of SCI and therefore represent viable treatment options. This review systematically examines the pre-clinical literature on estrogen and estrogenic compound neuroprotection after SCI. Several estrogens were examined by the included studies: estrogen, estradiol benzoate, Premarin, isopsoralen, genistein, and selective estrogen receptor modulators. Across these pharmacotherapies, we find significant evidence that estrogens indeed offer protection against myriad pathophysiological effects of SCI and lead to improvements in functional outcomes, including locomotion. A STRING functional network analysis of proteins modulated by estrogen after SCI demonstrated that estrogen simultaneously upregulates known neuroprotective pathways, such as HIF-1, and downregulates pro-inflammatory pathways, including IL-17. These findings highlight the strong therapeutic potential of estrogen and estrogenic compounds after SCI.

Keywords: Estrogen; Estrogenic compounds; Neuroprotection; Spinal cord injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord
  • Spinal Cord Injuries*


  • Estrogens
  • Neuroprotective Agents