Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Behavioral Neuroscience

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 201 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Cheryl A Frye

Committee Members

John P Forsyth, Elana Gordis


anxiety, depression, estradiol, estrogen, estrogen receptor, hippocampus, Estradiol, Mood (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Biological Psychology


Although estradiol (E2) has numerous effects in the central nervous system, this review will focus on addressing the effects of E2 on behaviors related to mood in women and animal models and include recent findings from our laboratory related to this topic. E2's anti-anxiety and anti-depressant-like effects may depend upon many factors (e.g. age, reproductive history/status, time in E2 deficient state before initiation of E2 therapy, regimen and dosing of E2, neuropsychiatric/stress history). First, evidence of how factors may alter responses to E2 in people and in animal models will be discussed. Second, interactions of E2 with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis/stress response (as an animal model of neuropsychiatric disorder or stressor history) will be discussed in detail. Third, data that the hippocampus is a brain target for E2's functional effects will be provided. Fourth, evidence that intracellular estrogen receptors (ERs), particularly the beta (rather than alpha) isoform of ERs in the hippocampus, may be important for E2's beneficial psychological effects. Fifth, membrane actions of E2 and integrated intracellular ER and membrane actions of E2 will be discussed. Research investigating the brain targets and mechanisms by which E2 affects anxiety and depression is clinically-relevant and timely. Indeed, investigating the putative receptor mechanisms and brain targets of E2 is important so that future therapeutics can exploit the trophic effects of E2 in the brain and minimize these trophic actions in reproductive tissues.