Estradiol (Molecule of the Month for April 2006)
Oestradiol, Estrogen, Oestrogen, Premarin, Estrofem, Estrace
Estradiol is a hormone, often called the "female" hormone but also present in males it represents the major estrogen in humans. Critical for sexual functioning, estradiol also supports bone growth. Estradiol, like other sex steroids, is derived from cholesterol which is converted into androstenedione. Androstendione is then either converted to testosterone which in turn undergoes aromatization to estradiol, or, alternatively, androstendione is aromatized to estrone which is converted to estradiol. During the reproductive years most estradiol in women is produced by the granulosa cells of the ovaries.
A synthetic form of estradiol, called ethinyl estradiol is a major component of hormonal contraceptive devices. Combined oral contraceptives contain ethinyl estradiol and a progestin, which both contribute to the inhibition of several hormones which leads to the prevention of ovulation and thus prevent pregnancy.
In the event that levels of estradiol in a woman's blood are low, often due to the menopause, a hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed.
Estrogens (also oestrogens) are a group of steroid compounds, named for their importance in the oestrus cycle, functioning as the primary female sex hormone. While estrogens are present in both men and women, they are usually present at significantly higher levels in women of reproductive age. They promote the development of female secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts, and are also involved in the thickening of the endometrium and other aspects of regulating the menstrual cycle. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) regulate the production of estrogen in ovulating women. Since estrogen circulating in the blood can feedback to reduce circulating levels of FSH and LH, some oral contraceptives contain estrogens.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for April 2006 )