Androgens have a variety of protective and therapeutic effects in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Here we review these effects as they related specifically to spinal and cranial motoneurons. Early in development, androgens are critical for the formation of important neuromuscular sex differences, decreasing the magnitude of normally occurring cell death in select motoneuron populations. Throughout the lifespan, androgens also protect against motoneuron death caused by axonal injury. Surviving motoneurons also display regressive changes to their neurites as a result of both direct axonal injury and loss of neighboring motoneurons. Androgen treatment enhances the ability of motoneurons to recover from these regressive changes and regenerate both axons and dendrites, restoring normal neuromuscular function. Androgens exert these protective effects by acting through a variety of molecular pathways. Recent work has begun to examine how androgen treatment can interact with other treatment strategies in promoting recovery from motoneuron injury.
- Cell death
- Nerve regeneration
- Sex differences
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems