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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 May 2023 - 2 Jun 2023



2023 May 20



Sex Hormones, Neurosteroids, and Glutamatergic Neurotransmission: A Review of the Literature.


Goyette MJ, Murray SL, Saldanha CJ, Holton K


Glutamatergic dysfunction has been implicated in the pathophysiology of multiple conditions including epilepsy, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), raising interest in potential ways of modifying glutamate in the nervous system. Emerging research has suggested an interactive effect between sex hormones and glutamatergic neurotransmission. The objective of this paper is to review existing literature on the mechanism of interaction between sex hormones and glutamatergic neurotransmission, as well as to explore what is known about these interactions in various neurological and psychiatric conditions. This paper summarizes knowledge regarding mechanisms for these effects, and glutamatergic response to direct modulation of sex hormones. Research articles were identified via scholarly databases including PubMed, Google Scholar, and ProQuest. Articles were included if they were original research from peer-reviewed academic journals that dealt with glutamate, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, neurosteroids, glutamate and sex hormone interactions, or the potential impact of glutamate and sex hormone interactions in the following conditions: chronic pain, epilepsy, PTSD, and PMDD. Current evidence suggests that sex hormones can directly modulate glutamatergic neurotransmission, with specific protective effects against excitotoxicity noted for estrogens. An effect of monosodium glutamate (MSG) consumption on sex hormone levels has also been demonstrated, suggesting a possible bi-directional effect. Overall, there is a good deal of evidence suggesting a role for sex hormones, and specifically for estrogens, in the modulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission.