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The Importance of Estradiol for Body Weight Regulation in Women

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By: Pilar Vigil, Jaime Melendez, Grace Petkovic, and Juan Pablo Del Rıo (07 November 2022)



Obesity in women of reproductive age has a number of adverse metabolic effects, including Type II Diabetes (T2D), dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease. It is associated with increased menstrual irregularity, ovulatory dysfunction, development of insulin resistance and infertility. In women, estradiol is not only critical for reproductive function, but they also control food intake and energy expenditure. Food intake is known to change during the menstrual cycle in humans. This change in food intake is largely mediated by estradiol, which acts directly upon anorexigenic and orexigenic neurons, largely in the hypothalamus. Estradiol also acts indirectly with peripheral mediators such as glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Like estradiol, GLP-1 acts on receptors at the hypothalamus. This review describes the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms governing the actions of estradiol during the menstrual cycle on food intake and energy expenditure and how estradiol acts with other weight-controlling molecules such as GLP-1. GLP-1 analogs have proven to be effective both to manage obesity and T2D in women. This review also highlights the relationship between steroid hormones and women’s mental health. It explains how a decline or imbalance in estradiol levels affects insulin sensitivity in the brain. This can cause cerebral insulin resistance, which contributes to the development of conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. The proper use of both estradiol and GLP-1 analogs can help to manage obesity and preserve an optimal mental health in women by reducing the mechanisms that trigger neurodegenerative disorders.


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