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Peripheral hormones have a major impact on the brain: they are able to interfere with its development, to affect release of neurotransmitters and concentrations of receptors, to trigger growth factors involved in lesion repair. These multiple actions account for their capacity to modulate a number of physiological parameters, from reproductive functions to memory, behaviour and aging. Depending upon intensity and duration of exposure, they can be either neuroprotective or neurotoxic, for instance by affecting production of free radicals. This book, based on contributions of pioneer investigators in the field, outlines the ambiguous actions of gonadal steroids (estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, inhibin and activin) and of neurosteroids, related moieties produced in the brain itself. After summarizing their multiple mechanisms of action, which involve both direct effects on neuronal membranes and activation of genes coding for specific proteins in neurons or glial cells, the book outlines the role of hormones in pathogenic processes such as mental disturbances or neurodegenerative diseases.
Activins and Inhibins: Physiological Roles, Signaling Mechanisms and Regulation.- Twins and the Fetal Origins Hypothesis: an Application to Growth Data.- Towards Understanding the Neurobiology of Mammalian Puberty: Genetic, Genomic and Proteomic Approaches.- The Non-Genomic Action of Sex Steroids.- Mechanisms of Steroid Hormone Actions on Hypothalamic Nerve Cells: Molecular and Biophysical Studies Relevant for Hormone-Dependent Bahaviors.- Biological Effects and Markers of Exposure to Xenostroids and Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) at the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Unit.- Regulation of Neurosteroid Biosynthesis by Neurotransmitters and Neuropeptides.- Progestins and Antiprogestins: Mechanisms of Action, Neuroprotection and Myelination.- Rapid Effects of Estradiol on Motivated Behaviors.- Behavioral Effects of Rapid Changes in Aromatase Activity in the Central Nervous System.- Modulatory of Endogenous Neuroprotection: Estrogen, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone and Endocannabinoids.- Estrogens, Aging, and Neurodegenerative Diseases.- Hormones, Stress and Depression.- Subject Index