Molecule of the Week
November 4, 2013
The Merck Index calls estradiol “the most potent naturally occurring estrogen in mammals”. Females produce it in the ovaries and, during pregnancy, in the placenta. In males, estradiol is a metabolic product of testosterone.
D. W. MacCorquodale and co-workers isolated estradiol from sows’ ovaries in 1936. Soon several researchers prepared it from other steroids. About 40 years later, two research teams reported its total synthesis.
Much research has been devoted to estradiol as a sex hormone, but it recently turned up in a study of eating disorders. K. L. Klump and co-workers at Michigan State University tracked estradiol levels in twin girls after midpuberty and found that the hormone correlated with eating disorders in identical, but not fraternal, twins. Klump believes that estradiol, a gene transcription factor in the brain, may switch on genes related to the disorders.