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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May;29(2):182-98. Epub 2007 Oct 5.

Rapid actions of androgens.

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Department of Internal Medicine III and Center for Molecular Medicine (CMMC), University of Cologne, Kerpener Street 62, D-50937 Cologne, Germany.


The biological activity of androgens is thought to occur predominantly through binding to intracellular androgen-receptors, a member of the nuclear receptor family, that interact with specific nucleotide sequences to alter gene expression. This genomic-androgen effect typically takes at least more than half an hour. In contrast, the rapid or non-genomic actions of androgens are manifested within in seconds to few minutes. This rapid effect of androgens are manifold, ranging from activation of G-protein coupled membrane androgen-receptors or sex hormone-binding globulin receptors, stimulation of different protein kinases, to direct modulation of voltage- and ligand gated ion-channels and transporters. The physiological relevance of these non-genomic androgen actions has not yet been determined in detail. However, it may contribute to modulate several second messenger systems or transcription factors, which suggests a cross-talk between the fast non-genomic and the slow genomic pathway of androgens. This review will focus on the rapid effects of androgens on cell surface and cytoplasmic level.

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