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Sex Differences in the BrainFrom Genes to Behavior$
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Jill B. Becker, Karen J. Berkley, Nori Geary, Elizabeth Hampson, James P. Herman, and Elizabeth Young

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195311587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195311587.001.0001

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Sex Differences in HPA Axis Regulation

Sex Differences in HPA Axis Regulation

Chapter:
(p.95) Chapter 6 Sex Differences in HPA Axis Regulation
Source:
Sex Differences in the Brain
Author(s):

Elizabeth A. Young

Ania Korszun

Helmer F. Figueiredo

Matia Banks-Solomon

James P. Herman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195311587.003.0000

This chapter reviews the interactions between gonadal steroids and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, especially the ability of gonadal steroids to modulate glucocorticoidnegative feedback during stress. It shows that gonadal steroids play a modulatory role in HPA axis regulation in both animals and humans. Although the precise mechanisms mediating ovarian hormone actions remain largely unclear, it is likely that both estrogens and progestins act at multiple sites of the HPA axis. Substantial experimental evidence supports an antiglucocorticoid effect of progesterone, mediated in part by a modulatory site for progesterone on glucocorticoid receptor (GR), it is also likely that estradiol plays a role in females' increased resistance to HPA feedback inhibition. Studies in rodents demonstrate that exogenous estradiol treatment enhances or diminishes stress responsiveness depending on the dose and/or exposure time periods of steroid exposure. Finally, it is important to bear in mind that estradiol can increase adrenal gland sensitivity to circulating adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thus offering an additional peripheral mechanism for glucocorticoid hypersecretion in females.

Keywords:   gonadal steroids, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, HPA axis, adrenocorticotropic hormone, estrogens, progestins, estradiol

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