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Reproduction. 2015 Apr;149(4):R193-218. doi: 10.1530/REP-14-0517. Epub 2014 Dec 16.

Role of androgens in normal and pathological ovarian function.

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Andrology LaboratoryANZAC Research Institute, Concord Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2139, Australia


Androgens mediate their actions via the androgen receptor (AR), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. AR-mediated androgen action is essential in male reproductive development and function; however, only in the last decade has the suspected but unproven role for AR-mediated actions in female reproduction been firmly established. Deciphering the specific roles and precise pathways by which AR-mediated actions regulate ovarian function has been hindered by confusion on how to interpret results from pharmacological studies using androgens that can be converted into oestrogens, which exert actions via the oestrogen receptors. The generation and analysis of global and cell-specific female Ar knockout mouse models have deduced a role for AR-mediated actions in regulating ovarian function, maintaining female fertility, and have begun to unravel the mechanisms by which AR-mediated androgen actions regulate follicle health, development and ovulation. Furthermore, observational findings from human studies and animal models provide substantial evidence to support a role for AR-mediated effects not only in normal ovarian function but also in the development of the frequent ovarian pathological disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This review focuses on combining the findings from observational studies in humans, pharmacological studies and animal models to reveal the roles of AR-mediated actions in normal and pathological ovarian function. Together these findings will enable us to begin understanding the important roles of AR actions in the regulation of female fertility and ovarian ageing, as well as providing insights into the role of AR actions in the androgen-associated reproductive disorder PCOS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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