Mechanistic insights into the direct antioxidant effects of estrogens

Laszlo Prokai, Katalin Prokai-Tatrai, Pál Perjési, James W. Simpkins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Free-radical scavenging by estrogens has been implicated as one of their non-genomic (estrogen-receptor independent) mechanisms of cytoprotection. This activity is associated with the presence of the phenolic A-ring in the structure of these molecules, thus rendering them members of the class of compounds called phenolic antioxidants. Direct oxyradical-scavenging by estrogens has been thought to cause interruption of free-radical chain reactions such as lipid peroxidation, and to prevent free-radical induced oxidative damage to biological macromolecules such as DNA and proteins. These antioxidant effects are determined not only by chemical reactivities toward reactive oxygen or reactive nitrogen species, but also by the mobility and/or distribution of estrogens in the biological microenvironment and by the fate of the estrogen-derived radicals. Recent results have highlighted the importance of investigations aimed at understanding mechanistic details of the underlying chemistry, especially with a focus on estrogen neuroprotection. Such fundamental studies have facilitated the discovery of a previously unrecognized antioxidant cycle for estrogens in which estrogen-derived quinols are key intermediates. Additionally, the use of these quinols as prodrugs in animal models has revealed a significant reduction of side effects compared to treatment directly with the feminizing hormones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Development Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2005


  • Antioxidant
  • Estrogen
  • Free-radical scavenging
  • Neuroprotection
  • Reactive oxygen species


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