The effects of prenatal sex steroid hormones on sexual differentiation of the brain


  • Serkan Karaismailoğlu
  • Ayşen Erdem

Received Date: 28.03.2013 Accepted Date: 26.05.2013 J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc 2013;14(3):163-167 PMID: 24592097

Most of the anatomical, physiological and neurochemical gender-related differences in the brain occur prenatally. The sexual differences in the brain are affected by sex steroid hormones, which play important roles in the differentiation of neuroendocrine system and behavior. Testosterone, estrogen and dihydrotestosterone are the main steroid hormones responsible for the organization and sexual differentiation of brain structures during early development. The structural and behavioral differences in the female and male brains are observed in many animal species; however, these differences are variable between species. Animal and human (in vivo imaging and postmortem) studies on sex differences in the brain have shown many differences in the local distribution of the cortex, the gray-white matter ratio, corpus callosum, anterior commissure, hypothalamus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, limbic system and neurotransmitter systems. This review aims to evaluate the anatomical, physiological and neurochemical differences in the female and male brains and to assess the effect of prenatal exposure to sex steroid hormones on the developing brain.

Keywords: Brain gender, sex differences, sex steroid hormones, prenatal development