HOUSTON, Sept. 29, 2011 Hormone researchers at the University of Houston (UH) have their sights set on providing long-term treatment options for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases by better understanding estradiol, the most potent naturally occurring estrogen.
They now believe that this estrogen hormone is a prominent regulator of several body functions in both females and males. While estradiol is more commonly associated with processes and diseases specific to women, the team determined that the hormone actually functions as a unisex hormone with multiple actions. Research has indicated that when there is an excessive or insufficient amount of estradiol present, the metabolic network becomes imbalanced, which can result in metabolic diseases.
"Female hormones have always been associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast-feeding and some diseases, such as osteoporosis and breast cancer, typically associated with women," said Dr. Rodrigo Barros, a research assistant professor with the UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS). "Our group, however, has discovered that one of these hormones, estradiol, has much wider actions than previously thought. It is no longer considered exclusively a 'female sex hormone,' but a 'unisex hormone' with multiple actions across several organ systems."
Working with CNRCS director and professor Dr. Jan-ke Gustafsson, Barros says that part of their research is dedicated to understanding how estradiol regulates feeding and food metabolism, explaining that this hormone is involved with several metabolic diseases, including eating disorders, obesity and diabetes.
"We believe that all the systems in the body involved with food consumption and metabolism, which include the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, muscles and fat, are connected by estradiol, resulting in a 'metabolic network' regulated by the hormone," Barros said. "Our evidence shows that when to
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University of Houston