BACKGROUND: Gender differences play a role in the origin and course of schizophrenia. It has been hypothesised that the gonadal hormone, oestrogen, may possibly perform a protective function in the development of certain forms of schizophrenia. AIM: To review neurobiological hypotheses concerning the role of oestrogen in the development and course of schizophrenia. METHOD: The relevant literature was consulted with the help of PubMed, textbooks and bibliographic references; the search terms used were 'oestrogen', 'schizophrenia', 'gender', 'epigenetics', 'psychosis', 'women' and 'brain'. There were no restrictions with regards to the time-period. RESULTS: Neuro-imaging, animal experiments and hormone-therapy studies showed several effects of oestrogen in the field of epigenetics, morphology of the brain, interaction with neurotransmitters and neuroprotection. CONCLUSION: Oestrogen is an important link in a complex of factors that clearly play a role in the varying development of schizophrenia in men and women. So far, however, there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of a specific mechanism that would explain why oestrogen may perform a protective function in schizophrenia.
|Translated title of the contribution||Women, schizophrenia and oestrogen; neurobiological hypotheses and hormone-therapy studies|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|