Cellular mechanisms of estradiol-mediated sexual differentiation of the brain

Christopher L. Wright, Jaclyn S. Schwarz, Shannon L. Dean, Margaret M. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Gonadal steroids organize the developing brain during a perinatal sensitive period and have enduring consequences for adult behavior. In male rodents testicular androgens are aromatized in neurons to estrogens and initiate multiple distinct cellular processes that ultimately determine the masculine phenotype. Within specific brain regions, overall cell number and dendritic morphology are the principal targets for hormonal organization. Recent advances have been made in elucidating the cellular mechanisms by which the neurological underpinnings of sexually dimorphic physiology and behavior are determined. These include estradiol-mediated prostaglandin synthesis, presynaptic release of glutamate, postsynaptic changes in glutamate receptors and changes in cell adhesion molecules. Sex differences in cell death are mediated by hormonal modulation of survival and death factors such as TNFα and Bcl-2/BAX.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-561
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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