Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Horm Behav. 1994 Dec;28(4):383-95.

Sex hormone modulation of neural development in vitro.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53792, USA.


The sex hormonal milieu during human and primate development is thought to influence adult cognition, perception, and behavior. Similarly in the rat, the neonatal sex hormonal milieu dictates adult behavior, as well as patterns of neural organization within the CNS. Specifically, estrogen and androgen alter neurite outgrowth, neuritic spine development, and synaptogenesis in the limbic system and spinal cord. To examine specific molecular/cellular effects of sex hormones on neurons, in vitro models were developed, using the PC12 cell line. Wild-type cells (PC12-WT) were stably transfected either with an expression vector coding for the human estrogen receptor (ER), androgen receptor (AR), or with a control vector. Resultant clones were isolated, screened for incorporation of vector and expression of ER or AR mRNA and protein, and analyzed for morphologic responses to estrogen and androgen, respectively. PC12-WT, NEO9 (ER-negative, AR-negative), SER8 (ER-positive, AR-negative), and AR8 (ER-negative, AR-positive) cells were exposed to nerve growth factor and graded doses of estradiol or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) for 2 days. In SER8 cells, estradiol led to dose-dependent increases in the frequency of neurite outgrowth, spine development, and interneuritic connectivity. Estradiol increased the frequency of gap junction frequency and length, and functional dye-coupling in SER8 cells. Conversely, in AR8 cells, DHT induced a dose-dependent increase in mean neurite length, branch order, and neuritic field area, while neurite branch segment length and soma area were unaffected. These results suggest that SER8 and AR8 cells in vitro recapitulate various sex hormonal effects on neurons in vivo. Estrogen and androgen appear to induce inherent neural morphologic programs in which androgen increases neurite arborization and the receptive field of individual cells, increasing the likelihood for intercellular communication, while estrogen actually induces this communication, in the form of spines, synapses, and gap junctions. Thus estrogen and androgen act in different but complementary ways to modulate neural development and organization.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk