Neuroprotective actions of androgens on motoneurons

Keith N. Fargo, Eileen M. Foecking, Kathryn J. Jones, Dale R. Sengelaub

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

49 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgens
  • Axotomy
  • Cell death
  • Dendrites
  • Motoneurons
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Neuroprotection
  • Sex differences
  • Steroids
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

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