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Brain Aromatase, Estrogens, and Behavior$
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Jacques Balthazart and Gregory Ball

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199841196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199841196.001.0001

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Aromatase and Sexual Differentiation of the Rodent Brain: The Old, the New, and the Unexpected

Aromatase and Sexual Differentiation of the Rodent Brain: The Old, the New, and the Unexpected

(p.315) Chapter 16 Aromatase and Sexual Differentiation of the Rodent Brain: The Old, the New, and the Unexpected
Brain Aromatase, Estrogens, and Behavior

Margaret M. McCarthy

Christopher L. Wright

Anne T. M. Konkle

Oxford University Press

The central role of neuronal aromatase activity in masculinization of the rodent brain has been firmly established for almost 40 years, yet the myriad of mechanisms by which the principal product of aromatization, estradiol, organizes the neural substrate to predispose adult behavior continue to be elucidated. Unexpected roles for inflammatory mediators and components of the immune system in sexual differentiation elucidate novel principles of brain development. Long-standing puzzles associated with female brain development, both feminization and defeminization, are being solved by unexpectedly rapid and developmentally delayed actions of estradiol, respectively. Neurosteroidogenesis in discrete brain regions, culminating with estradiol but possibly beginning with cholesterol, hints at additional roles for aromatization in brain development outside the confounds of the classical organizational/activational hypothesis and affecting cognitive regions such as the cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Collectively, it is clear that we are far from the final chapter in determining how aromatization influences brain and behavior.

Keywords:   activation, aromatase, defeminization, estradiol, feminization, hypothalamus, masculinization, organization, preoptic area, sexual differentiation, steroidogenesis, testosterone

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