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Biomedical Reviews

Steroid hormone receptors in the developing brain

Robert J. Handa, Richard H. Price Jr, Melinda E. Wilson


Sex differences exist in the behavioral patterns of adult vertebrate species. Many of these behavioral differences arise as a, result of the developmental imprinting of sex specific patterns in the anatomical, biochemical and molecular substrates of the brain. It is well established that steroid hormones play an important role during critical periods of development to organize the brain to a male or female specific pattern. In order to demonstrate that these hormones can act directly on brain tissue, ligand specific receptors for estrogen and androgen have been demonstrated in the developing brain, using a variety of techniques. Each class of steroid hormone receptor exhibits a unique distribution in the brain. Furthermore, each receptor undergoes a unique and tissue specific ontogenetic pattern of expression. A careful examination of the distribution and ontogeny of expression allows one to formulate specific hypotheses regarding the role of each of these receptors in the development and maturation of the brain.

Biomedical Reviews 1997; 7: 51-66.

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About The Authors

Robert J. Handa
Loyola University Chicago
United States

Richard H. Price Jr
Loyola University Chicago
United States

Melinda E. Wilson
Loyola University Chicago
United States

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