Although the effects of phytoestrogens on brain function is widely unknown, they are
often regarded as "natural" and thus as harmless. However, the effects of phytoestrogens
or environmental pollutants on brain function is underestimated. Estrogen (17beta-estradiol,
E2) and thyroid hormones (THs) play pivoltal roles in brain development. In the mature
brain, these hormones regulate metabolism on cellular and organismal levels. Thus,
E2 and THs do not only regulate the energy metabolism of the entire organism, but
simultaneously also regulate important homeostatic parameters of neurons and glia
in the CNS. It is, therefore, obvious that the mechanisms through which these hormones
exert their effects are pleiotropic and include both intra- and intercellular actions.
These hormonal mechanisms are versatile, and the experimental investigation of simultaneous
hormone-induced mechanisms is technically challanging. In addition, the normal physiological
settings of metabolic parameters depend on a plethora of interactions of the steroid
hormones. In this review, we discuss conceptual and experimental aspects of the gonadal
and thyroid hormones as they relate to in vitro models of the cerebellum.