From the article:
“We now know how estrogen keeps brain cells alive even when exposed to an insult like stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.”
“During a stroke, free radicals damage important cells in the body, most notably nerve cells,” said Laszlo Prokai, PhD, a chemist with UF’s College of Pharmacy.
“In layman’s terms, a spill occurs when the blood starts flowing into the blocked territory, and the overflow hydroxyl radical is the spill,” Prokai said. “The estrogen is the mop, soaking up the hydroxyl radicals before they do damage. But when the mop is saturated, you have to squeeze it to continue mopping. This mechanism has never been fully understood before.”
When the estrogen and hydroxyl radicals combine, an unusual molecule called a quinol is produced. In this form, the hydroxyl radicals are harmless, but the estrogen is no longer useful as an antioxidant. Prokai investigated and discovered chemicals in the body transform the quinol back to estrogen, effectively wringing out the mop and making it useful again.
In terms of therapies, scientists believe administering the quinol — the saturated mop — will deliver the protective benefits of estrogen, because the body will naturally wring it out and convert it to estrogen, while side effects associated with direct estrogen therapy, such as feminization in men, may remain in check.