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      Involvement of Testosterone Signaling in the Integrity of the Neurovascular Unit in the Male: Review of Evidence, Contradictions, and Hypothesis

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          Age-related central nervous system function decline and increased susceptibility of females compared to males with respect to prevalence of several neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases are both based on the principle that hormonal factors could be involved. These cerebral disorders are characterized by an alteration of blood-brain barrier (BBB) properties and chronic neuroinflammation, which lead to disease progression. Neuroinflammation, in turn, contributes to BBB dysfunction. The BBB and its environment, called the neurovascular unit (NVU), are crucial for cerebral homeostasis and neuronal function. Interestingly, sex steroids influence BBB properties and modulate neuroinflammatory responses. To date however, the majority of work reported has focused on the effects of estrogens on BBB function and neuroinflammation in female mammals. In contrast, the effects of testosterone signaling on the NVU in males are still poorly studied. The aim of this review was to summarize and discuss the literature, providing insights and contradictions to highlight hypothesis and the need for further investigations.

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          Most cited references 193

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          Neurotoxic reactive astrocytes are induced by activated microglia

          A reactive astrocyte subtype termed A1 is induced after injury or disease of the central nervous system and subsequently promotes the death of neurons and oligodendrocytes.
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            Stress and hippocampal plasticity.

             B McEwen (1998)
            The hippocampus is a target of stress hormones, and it is an especially plastic and vulnerable region of the brain. It also responds to gonadal, thyroid, and adrenal hormones, which modulate changes in synapse formation and dendritic structure and regulate dentate gyrus volume during development and in adult life. Two forms of structural plasticity are affected by stress: Repeated stress causes atrophy of dendrites in the CA3 region, and both acute and chronic stress suppresses neurogenesis of dentate gyrus granule neurons. Besides glucocorticoids, excitatory amino acids and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are involved in these two forms of plasticity as well as in neuronal death that is caused in pyramidal neurons by seizures and by ischemia. The two forms of hippocampal structural plasticity are relevant to the human hippocampus, which undergoes a selective atrophy in a number of disorders, accompanied by deficits in declarative episodic, spatial, and contextual memory performance. It is important, from a therapeutic standpoint, to distinguish between a permanent loss of cells and a reversible atrophy.
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              Age trends in the level of serum testosterone and other hormones in middle-aged men: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study.

              We used longitudinal data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, a large population-based random-sample cohort of men aged 40-70 yr at baseline, to establish normative age trends for serum level of T and related hormones in middle-aged men and to test whether general health status affected the age trends. Of 1,709 men enrolled in 1987-1989, 1,156 were followed up 7-10 yr afterward. By repeated-measures statistical analysis, we estimated simultaneously the cross-sectional age trend of each hormone between subjects within the baseline data, the cross-sectional trend between subjects within the follow-up data, and the longitudinal trend within subjects between baseline and follow-up. Total T declined cross-sectionally at 0.8%/yr of age within the follow-up data, whereas both free and albumin-bound T declined at about 2%/yr, all significantly more steeply than within the baseline data. Sex hormone-binding globulin increased cross-sectionally at 1.6%/yr in the follow-up data, similarly to baseline. The longitudinal decline within subjects between baseline and follow-up was considerably steeper than the cross-sectional trend within measurement times for total T (1.6%/yr) and bioavailable T (2-3%/yr). Dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, cortisol, and estrone showed significant longitudinal declines, whereas dihydrotestosterone, pituitary gonadotropins, and PRL rose longitudinally. Apparent good health, defined as absence of chronic illness, prescription medication, obesity, or excessive drinking, added 10-15% to the level of several androgens and attenuated the cross-sectional trends in T and LH but did not otherwise affect longitudinal or cross-sectional trends. The paradoxical finding that longitudinal age trends were steeper than cross-sectional trends suggests that incident poor health may accelerate the age-related decline in androgen levels.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                May 2021
                08 June 2020
                : 111
                : 5
                : 403-420
                Sorbonne Université, INSERM U1130, CNRS UMR 8246, Neuroscience Paris-Seine, Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine, Paris, France
                Author notes
                *Valérie Grange-Messent, Sorbonne Université, INSERM U1130, CNRS UMR 8246, Neuroscience Paris-Seine, Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine, 7 Quai St Bernard, FR–75005 Paris (France), valerie.messent@sorbonne-universite.fr
                509218 Neuroendocrinology 2021;111:403–420
                © 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, Pages: 18
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