The catechol estrogens, the 2- or 4-hydroxylated metabolites of estrone and estradiol, have pharmacologic properties of both estrogens and catecholamines and are formed from estrogens in peripheral tissues and in the brain. This has led to speculation that they may mediate some of the feedback effects of estrogens upon gonadotropins and prolactin (PRL). Studies testing these hypotheses are still few and have not been conclusive. There have been reports that the catechol estrogen 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) might act as a partial estrogen antagonist, stimulating gonadotropin secretion; and that it might have dopamine-like effects, suppressing the secretion of PRL. In studies testing the chronic and acute effects of catechol estrogens on LH, FSH, and PRL in men and women, we found that they behaved as estrogens, suppressing gonadotropins when given in doses high enough to compensate for their rapid clearance and degradation. We found no evidence that they suppress PRL secretion. The weight of available evidence suggests that these effects are mediated by estrogen receptor interactions; and that the formation of catechol estrogens is not an obligatory step in the feedback effects of estrogens, although it may have a modulatory role. Plasma levels of catechol estrogens are too low for them to exert circulating neuroendocrine effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas