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Schizophrenia Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 540273, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/540273
Review Article

The Role of Oestrogen and Other Hormones in the Pathophysiology and Treatment of Schizophrenia

Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia

Received 10 November 2011; Accepted 7 December 2011

Academic Editor: Judith Usall

Copyright © 2012 Emily Hayes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The theory that many serious mental illnesses, in particular psychoses such as schizophrenia, may have a significant hormonal aetiological component is fast gaining popularity and the support of scientific evidence. Oestrogen in particular has been substantially investigated as a potential mediator of brain function in schizophrenia. Epidemiological and life-cycle data point to significant differences in the incidence and course of schizophrenia between men and women suggests a protective role of oestrogen. In vitro and in vivo preclinical research confirms oestradiol’s interactions with central neurotransmitter systems implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, while results from randomised controlled trials investigating the antipsychotic potential of oestrogen have been positive. Research into other neuroactive hormones with possible effects on mental state is a rapidly evolving field that may hold new promise. Given that schizophrenia and related psychoses are pervasive and debilitating conditions for which currently available treatments are often only partially effective and entail a high risk of serious side-effects, novel therapeutic strategies are needed. The literature reviewed in this paper suggests that hormones such as oestrogen could be a viable option, and it is hoped that with further research and larger trials, the oestrogen hypothesis can be translated into effective clinical practice.