The normal human ovary part II: How steroid hormones work

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Introduction Estrogen (E) and progesterone (P) play central roles in both the endocrine and intracrine regulation of all aspects of female reproduction [1-3]. In the reproductive system they act at the level of the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary, ovary, and uterus to coordinate neuroendocrine-directed pulsatile secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone, cyclic release of gonadotropins FSH and LH, ovulation, and endometrial development in preparation for implantation and maintenance of the fertilized embryo. In addition, both hormones are essential for pubescent and pregnancy mammary gland development (a complex set of multiple instructions condensed in simplest terms as ductal morphogenesis in the case of E and further ductal branching with lobulo-alveolar differentiation in the case of P). However, the physiologic activities of these steroids are not limited to reproductive system functions; their roles, particularly those of estradiol (E2), the primary estrogen, also include regulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, the integrity of the cardiovascular system, the central nervous system, and skeletal homeostasis. It is in this broad spectrum of effects that the general understanding of the biology of these hormones has been expanded, distilled, and crystallized in cell- and tissue-specific receptor and post-receptor functional contexts. It is in the unraveling of the complexities of how these steroids work that the most revealing biologic and pharmacologic information has emerged. Among these new insights are: (1) ligand availability, variability, and tissue specificity; (2) new signaling pathways responsive to variable ligand/receptor aggregates localized in various cellular sites; (3) new modes of genomic and non-genomic action; (4) fuller understanding of the formation of receptor complexes with assemblies of either activators or repressors (transcriptomes and signalsomes); and (5) the translational and post-translational epigenetic accommodations which achieve signal-specific functional impact.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAltchek's Diagnosis and Management of Ovarian Disorders, Third Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781139003254
ISBN (Print)9781107012813
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


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