Regulation of Neuropeptide Gene Expression by Steroid Hormones

  • Richard E. Harlan
Part of the Molecular Neurobiology · 1988 · book series (MN)


Steroid hormones modify several brain functions, at least in part by altering expression of particular genes. Of interest are those genes that are involved in cell-cell communication in the brain, for instance neuropeptide genes and genes that code for enzymes involved in synthesis of neurotransmitters. Steroid regulation of mRNA levels for several genes has been reported, including the genes coding for the neuropeptides vasopressin, corticotropin releasing factor, luteinizing hormone-releasing factor, pro-opiomelanocortin, somatostatin, preproenkphalin, and the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. Steroid control of releasing factor genes is consistent with classical neuroendocrine concepts of negative feedback. Steroid-induced plasticity of gene expression is sometimes in evidence, with the presence or absence of a particular steroid inducing expression of a neuropeptide gene in neurons that under other conditions do not express the gene.

As a means of gaining some insight into the mechanism of action of steroid hormones, several groups have determined some of the neuropeptide profiles of neurons that contain receptors for steroid hormones. Marked heterogeneity is found, in that often only a subpopulation of phenotypically-similar neurons, even within a single brain area, contains receptors for a given steroid.

Index Entries

Steroid hormones neuropeptide genes gene expression releasing factor genes steroid receptors 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Harlan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyTulane University School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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