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It has long been known that the estrogen, 17β-estradiol (17β-E), plays a central role for female reproductive physiology and behavior. Numerous studies have established the neurochemical and molecular basis of estrogenic induction of female sexual behavior, i.e., lordosis, in animal models. In addition, 17β-E also regulates male-type sexual and aggressive behavior. In males, testosterone secreted from the testes is irreversibly aromatized to 17β-E in the brain. We discuss the contribution of two nuclear receptor isoforms, estrogen receptor (ER)α and ERβ to the estrogenic regulation of sexually dimorphic brain formation and sex-typical expression of these social behaviors. Furthermore, 17β-E is a key player for social behaviors such as social investigation, preference, recognition and memory as well as anxiety-related behaviors in social contexts. Recent studies also demonstrated that not only nuclear receptor-mediated genomic signaling but also membrane receptor-mediated non-genomic actions of 17β-E may underlie the regulation of these behaviors. Finally, we will discuss how rapidly developing research tools and ideas allow us to investigate estrogenic action by emphasizing behavioral neural networks. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Sonoko Ogawa, Shinji Tsukahara, Elena Choleris, Nandini Vasudevan. Estrogenic regulation of social behavior and sexually dimorphic brain formation. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. 2020 Mar;110:46-59

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PMID: 30392880

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