Gonadal Hormones during Sexual Differentiation in Vertebrates

  • John A. Resko
Part of the Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology book series (HBNE, volume 7)


It is generally agreed that, at least in mammals, sex chromosomes determine the sex of the individual. For “normal” sexual development, however, more is required than the mere presence of these chromosomes. It was recognized early in this century—and has been verified many times since—that chemical substances (hormones) of gonadal origin influence the development of the central nervous system and anlagen of the reproductive tract so that they are either masculine or feminine in character. The influence of gonadal hormones on target tissues is covered elsewhere in this volume. Here, we discuss and bring together what is known about the hormones that are secreted by the gonads during sexual differentiation in vertebrates. The so-called period of sexual differentiation in vertebrates varies from species to species. In long-gestation mammals, such as human beings, rhesus monkeys, and guinea pigs, sexual differentiation takes place prenatally. In species with short gestations, such as rats and mice, sexual development, especially of the central nervous system, continues into the neonatal period. In some species (e.g., some primates), the so-called critical period for hormone action on sexual differentiation is not known. In fact, the term critical period may not be a good one because it is too restrictive for hormone actions that may be longer in duration or for actions that vary in time span for different sexual functions.


Luteinizing Hormone Leydig Cell Interstitial Cell Sexual Differentiation Clinical Endocrinology 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Resko
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyOregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA

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