The biological actions of estrogens on skin


Dr M. J. Thornton, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1DP UK
Tel.: +44 1274 235517
Fax: +44 1274 309742


Abstract: There is still extensive disparity in our understanding of how estrogens exert their actions, particularly in non-reproductive tissues such as the skin. Although it has been recognized for some time that estrogens have significant effects on many aspects of skin physiology and pathophysiology, studies on estrogen action in skin have been limited. However, estrogens clearly have an important function in many components of human skin including the epidermis, dermis, vasculature, hair follicle and the sebaceous, eccrine and apocrine glands, having significant roles in skin aging, pigmentation, hair growth, sebum production and skin cancer. The recent discovery of a second intracellular estrogen receptor (ERβ) with different cell-specific roles to the classic estrogen receptor (ERα), and the identification of cell surface estrogen receptors, has provided further challenges to understanding the mechanism of estrogen action. It is now time to readdress many of the outstanding questions regarding the role of estrogens in skin and improve our understanding of the physiology and interaction of steroid hormones and their receptors in human skin. Not only will this lead to a better understanding of estrogen action, but may also provide a basis for further interventions in pathological processes that involve dysregulation of estrogen action.