Researchers to investigate female hormone's role in metabolic processes

Estradiol, a hormone similar to estrogen that is commonly associated with female functions, may play an important role in the metabolic health of both men and women, and a team of researchers is trying to determine whether or not it can be connected to the development of type 2 diabetes.

The University of Houston researchers said that estradiol is generally thought to be central to menstruation and breast feeding and may also play a role in the development of certain diseases like breast cancer and osteoporosis. However, evidence increasingly suggests that the hormone may be important to men's health as well.

The team is planning a serious of studies to examine the role of estradiol in fat metabolism. Determining the exact function of the hormone in this regard may lead to improved treatments for conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They expect the hormone plays a larger role in metabolic functions than previously thought.

"We believe that all the systems in the body involved with food consumption and metabolism, which include the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, muscles and fat, are connected by estradiol, resulting in a 'metabolic network' regulated by the hormone," said lead researcher Rodrigo Barros. "Our evidence shows that when too much or too little estradiol is available, this delicate network loses its balance and metabolic diseases set in."

The eventual findings of the study could have important implications. Supplements containing estradiol and similar plant hormones are growing in popularity. However, the team thinks that these pills may cause a significant disruption in people's metabolic health, potentially contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes and other conditions.

Furthermore, understanding how estradiol regulates metabolic processes could lead to better treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.