Androgens exert significant organizational and activational effects on the nervous system and behavior. Despite the fact that female mammals generally produce low levels of androgens, relative to the male of the same species, increasing evidence suggests that androgens can exert profound effects on the normal physiology and behavior of females during fetal, neonatal, and adult stages of life. This review examines the effects of exposure to androgens at three stages of development - as an adult, during early postnatal life and as a fetus, on reproductive hormone secretions in female rats. We examine the effects of androgen exposure both as a model of neuroendocrine sexual differentiation and with respect to the role androgens play in the normal female. We then discuss the hypothesis that androgens may cause epigenetic modification of estrogen target genes in the brain. Finally we consider the clinical consequences of excess androgen exposure in women.
- Epigenetic programming
- Progesterone receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience