Classical androgen receptors in non-classical sites in the brain

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Androgen receptors are expressed in many different neuronal populations in the central nervous system where they often act as transcription factors in the cell nucleus. However, recent studies have detected androgen receptor immunoreactivity in neuronal and glial processes of the adult rat neocortex, hippocampal formation, and amygdala as well as in the telencephalon of eastern fence and green anole lizards. This review discusses previously published findings on extranuclear androgen receptors, as well as new experimental results that begin to establish a possible functional role for androgen receptors in axons within cortical regions. Electron microscopic studies have revealed that androgen receptor immunoreactive processes in the rat brain correspond to axons, dendrites and glial processes. New results show that lesions of the dorsal CA1 region by local administration of ibotenic acid reduce the density of androgen receptor immunoreactive axons in the cerebral cortex and the amygdala, suggesting that these axons may originate in the hippocampus. Androgen receptor immunoreactivity in axons is also decreased by the intracerebroventricular administration of colchicine, suggesting that androgen receptor protein is transported from the perikaryon to the axons by fast axonal transport. Androgen receptors in axons located in the cerebral cortex and amygdala and originating in the hippocampus may play an important role in the rapid behavioral effects of androgens.

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