Chapter

Aromatase and Sexual Differentiation: Lessons from the Aromatase and Alpha-Fetoprotein Knockout Mice

Julie Bakker

in Brain Aromatase, Estrogens, and Behavior

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841196
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979837 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199841196.003.0017

Series: Oxford Series in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Aromatase and Sexual Differentiation: Lessons from the Aromatase and Alpha-Fetoprotein Knockout Mice

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Much evidence suggests that many, although not all, of the perinatal organizational actions of testosterone on the development of the male brain actually results from the cellular effects of estradiol formed via neural aromatization of testosterone. However, a default developmental program for the female brain has been criticized. Indeed, new results obtained in aromatase knockout mice showed that estradiol actively contributes to the differentiation of female-typical aspects of brain and behavioral sexual differentiation. Furthermore, results obtained in alpha-fetoprotein knockout mice support the view that male-typical neural and behavioral differentiation occurs prenatally in genetic males under the influence of estradiol. These prenatal effects of estradiol are avoided in fetal genetic females by the neuroprotective actions of alpha-fetoprotein, whereas female-typical neural and behavioral differentiation normally occurs postnatally in genetic females under the influence of estradiol presumably produced by the ovaries.

Keywords: alpha-fetoprotein; anteroventral periventricular preoptic area; estradiol; lordosis; medial preoptic nucleus; progesterone receptor; ventromedial hypothalamus

Chapter.  5277 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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