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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1999 May 25;151(1-2):205-12.

Indirect mechanisms and cascades of androgen action.

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Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Endocrinology, Faculty of Medicine, Onderwijs en Navorsing, Gasthuisberg, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.


Androgens are the main hormones responsible for the induction of the male phenotype. This process involves a complex combination of reversible and irreversible effects. As for other steroid hormones, many of the effects of androgens are mediated by a specific intracellular receptor that interacts with cis-acting regulatory regions (AREs) in the affected genes. Apart from these direct effects, however, androgens may indirectly affect the expression of a variety of genes that do not necessarily contain AREs. Indirect effects may be related to androgen-induced changes in the concentration or activity of secondary transcription factors, autocrine and paracrine mediators, and circulating hormones. Such indirect effects may induce cascade-like actions and may play an important role in more complex effects of androgens involving coordinated responses of genes, cells and organs.

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