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Mol Hum Reprod. 2009 Mar;15(3):149-54. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gap006. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Androgen receptor's destiny in mammalian oocytes: a new hypothesis.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chaoyang, Beijing, People's Republic of China.


Unlike the well-established roles of androgen and androgen receptor (AR) in males, the functions of this steroid and its receptor in the ovary are still unclear. For decades, androgen and AR have long been considered to play a negative (at least not a positive) role in mammalian oocyte maturation. However, recent studies by us and others showed their positive influence in promoting meiotic maturation. On the other hand, rapid non-genomic effects of androgens have been observed and are now generally accepted as contributing to the physiological effects of the steroids and their related receptors in somatic cells, and this has stimulated us to explore the complex roles of AR in the ovary. Based on the classic dogma and new findings, we collected evidence to propose that the expression of AR shifts from the oocytes to the theca cells and finally disappears in the oocytes during evolution. It is suggested that the non-genomic pathway involving androgen and AR in the mammalian oocytes, unlike somatic cells, cells will undergo elimination. The function of androgen and AR in promoting meiotic maturation may have been replaced gradually by gonadotrophins. Moreover, a possible relationship between AR and polycystic ovary syndrome is also discussed, which might provide a clue for the pathology of the disease.

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