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Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Apr;12(1):115-32.

Physiology and pathophysiology of androgen action.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Medical University of Lübeck, Germany.


Knowledge of the physiology of male sexual differentiation and the clinical presentation of androgen insensitivity syndromes (AIS) has led to an increasing understanding of the mechanisms of androgen action. Androgens induce their specific response via the androgen receptor (AR), which in turn regulates the transcription of androgen-responsive target genes. The androgen-dependent development of male genital structures and the induction of the normal male phenotype depends on the presence of an intact AR. Structural alterations leading to malfunction of the AR are associated with variable inhibition of virilization despite normal or even supranormal serum levels of androgens. The mapping, cloning and sequencing of the AR gene have facilitated new insights into the study of androgen action. Functional investigation of the normal and the mutant AR in vivo as well as in vitro has led to the characterization of the distinct molecular steps involved in the normal androgen action pathways that are inhibited in the androgen insensitivity syndrome.

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