Gonadal Steroids and Brain Function
Evidence suggesting that the brain is a target for gonadal steroids has existed for more than a century, since the experiments of Berthold on castration and gonadal transplantation in roosters (Berthold, 1849). Although of great importance to our understanding of sexual behavior and reproduction, progress toward establishing and understanding the relationship of steroids to the central nervous system was nonexistent until the late 1950s or early 1960s. At that time a series of implant, lesion, and stimulation experiments were conducted in a number of laboratories, all of which pointed to certain regions of the hypothalamus, limbic system, and mid-brain as specific targets for gonadal steroids. Since steroid targets possess specific receptors responsible for their responses to hormonal stimuli, these can be assumed to exist in central nervous system, as well as peripheral, targets. These receptors will be the subject of this chapter. In addition we will examine some biochemical and physiologic responses that relate temporally to changes in subcellular localization of these receptors (i.e., to the translocation of Rc to the nuclear compartment to form an RnS complex). This subject has been reviewed recently by several investigators (McEwen, 1978; Feder et al., 1978; Zigmond, 1975). Certainly we will not review the field of steroids and central nervous system function as extensively or intensively as these authors. Instead we will use their conclusions as a framework on which to base some of our own observations on alterations in brain function with steroid treatment.
KeywordsTestosterone Glucocorticoid Cytosol Prolactin Vasopressin
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