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Steroidogenic versus Metabolic Programming of Reproductive Neuroendocrine, Ovarian and Metabolic Dysfunctions

Steroidogenic versus Metabolic Programming of Reproductive Neuroendocrine, Ovarian and Metabolic Dysfunctions

Neuroendocrinology 102(3): 226-237

The susceptibility of the reproductive system to early exposure to steroid hormones has become a major concern in our modern societies. Human fetuses are at risk of abnormal programming via exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, inadvertent use of contraceptive pills during pregnancy, as well as from excess exposure to steroids due to disease states. Animal models provide an unparalleled resource to understand the developmental origin of diseases. In female sheep, prenatal exposure to testosterone excess results in an array of adult reproductive disorders that recapitulate those seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), including disrupted neuroendocrine feedback mechanisms, increased pituitary sensitivity to gonadotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone excess, functional hyperandrogenism, and multifollicular ovarian morphology culminating in early reproductive failure. Prenatal testosterone treatment also leads to fetal growth retardation, insulin resistance, and hypertension. Mounting evidence suggests that developmental exposure to an improper steroidal/metabolic environment may mediate the programming of adult disorders in prenatal testosterone-treated females, and these defects are maintained or amplified by the postnatal sex steroid and metabolic milieu. This review addresses the steroidal and metabolic contributions to the development and maintenance of the PCOS phenotype in the prenatal testosterone-treated sheep model, including the effects of prenatal and postnatal treatment with an androgen antagonist or insulin sensitizer as potential strategies to prevent/ameliorate these dysfunctions. Insights obtained from these intervention strategies on the mechanisms underlying these defects are likely to have translational relevance to human PCOS.

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Accession: 058905013

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25832114

DOI: 10.1159/000381830

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