Non-feminizing estrogens: a novel neuroprotective therapy

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While the conflict between basic science evidence for estrogen neurproprotection and the lack of effectiveness in clinical trials is only now being resolved, it is clear that strategies for estrogen neuroprotection that avoid activation of ERs have the potential for clinical application. Herein we review the evidence from both in vitro and in vivo studies that describe high potency neuroprotection with non-feminizing estrogens. We have characterized many of the essential chemical features of non-feminizing estrogens that eliminate or reduce ER binding while maintaining or enhancing neuroprotection. Additionally, we provide evidence that these non-feminizing estrogens have efficacy in protecting the brain from AD neuropathology and traumatic brain injury. In conclusion, it appears that the non-feminizing estrogen strategy for neuroprotection is a viable option to achieve the beneficial neuroprotective effects of estrogens while eliminating the toxic off-target effects of chronic estrogen administration.