Estrogen- and progesterone-mediated structural neuroplasticity in women: evidence from neuroimaging

Eva Catenaccio, Weiya Mu, Michael L. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


There is substantial evidence that the ovarian sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which vary considerably over the course of the human female lifetime, contribute to changes in brain structure and function. This structured, quantitative literature reviews aims to summarize neuroimaging literature addressing physiological variation in brain macro- and microstructure across an array of hormonal transitions including the menstrual cycle, use of hormonal contraceptives, pregnancy, and menopause. Twenty-five studies reporting structural neuroimaging of women, addressing variation across hormonal states, were identified from a structured search of PUBMED and were systematically reviewed. Although the studies are heterogenous with regard to methodology, overall the results point to overlapping areas of hormone related effects on brain structure particularly affecting the structures of the limbic system. These findings are in keeping with functional data that point to a role for estrogen and progesterone in mediating emotional processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3845-3867
Number of pages23
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Estrogen
  • Hormones
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Progesterone
  • Sex differences
  • Voxel-based morphometry
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


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