Background: Many prostate cancer (PCa) patients are on androgen deprivation therapy
(ADT) as part of their cancer treatments but ADT may lead to cognitive impairments. ADT depletes
men of both androgen and estrogen. Whether estradiol supplementation can improve cognitive
impairments in patients on ADT is understudied.
Objective: To summarize data on the effects of estradiol treatment on cognitive function of
androgen-deprived genetic male populations (PCa patients and male-to-female transsexuals) and
castrated male animals.
Method: Publications were identified by a literature search on PubMed and Google Scholar.
Results: While some studies showed that estradiol improves cognitive function (most notably,
spatial ability) for castrated rats, what remains uninvestigated are: 1) whether estradiol can improve
cognition after long-term androgen deprivation, 2) how estradiol affects memory retention, and 3)
how early vs. delayed estradiol treatment after castration influences cognition. For androgendeprived
genetic males, estradiol treatment may improve some cognitive functions (e.g., verbal and
visual memory), but the findings are not consistent due to large variability in the study design
Conclusion: Future studies are required to determine the best estradiol treatment protocol to
maximize cognitive benefits for androgen-deprived genetic males. Tests that assess comparable
cognitive domains in human and rodents are needed. What particularly under-investigated is how
the effects of estradiol on cognitive ability intersect with other parameters; sleep, depression and
physical fatigue. Such studies have clinical implications to improve the quality of life for both PCa
patients on ADT as well as for male-to-female transsexuals.