25 years of ERβ: a personal journey

Margaret Warner, Xiaotang Fan, Anders Strom, Wanfu Wu, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Summary: After the discovery of ERβ, a novel role for dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in estrogen signaling was revealed. Instead of just being a better androgen, DHT was found to be a precursor of the ERβ agonist 5α-androstane-3β, 17β-diol (3βAdiol), an estrogen which does not require aromatase for its synthesis. ERβ was found to oppose androgen signaling and thus is a potential target for treatment of prostate cancer. ERβ was also found to have effects that were independent of androgen signaling, particularly in the CNS. Although in rodent models of neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease), ERβ agonists are very effective in relieving symptoms and improving pathologies, this has not proven to be the case in humans. In this review we will focus on the main differences in ERβ signaling between rodents and humans and will make the point that a very important difference between the two species is in the splice variants which are expressed in humans and not rodents. The main conclusion at this point is that before we think of using ERβ agonists clinically, much more work on ERβ signaling in the human or in primates needs to be done.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1-R9
JournalJournal of Molecular Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 15 2021


  • ERβ
  • estrogen receptors
  • prostate
  • steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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