17β-estradiol and inflammation: implications for ischemic stroke

Document Type


Publication Date



Although typically associated with maintenance of female reproductive function, estrogens mediate physiological processes in nearly every body tissue, including the central nervous system. Numerous pre-clinical studies have shown that estrogen, specifically 17-beta-estradiol (17β-E2), protects the brain from ischemic injury following stroke. There are multiple mechanisms of 17β-E2’s neuroprotection, including activation of several neuroprotective pathways in the brain, but 17β-E2 also mediates the local and systemic immune response to ischemic stroke. This review summarizes the immune response to stroke, sex differences in stroke pathophysiology, and the role of estrogen as an immunomodulator. This review will focus almost entirely on the role of 17β-E2; however, there will be a brief review and comparison to other forms of estrogen. Understanding the immunomodulatory action of estrogens may provide an opportunity for the use of estrogens in treatment of stroke and other inflammatory disease.