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  • 1 Semmelweis University Medical School, Faculty of Medicine 2nd Department of Internal Medicine Szentkirályi u. 46 H-1088 Budapest Hungary
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Regardless of their origin, neuroactive steroids are capable of modifying neural activities by modulating different types of membrane receptors. Neurosteroids are synthesized de novo in neurons and glia. Steroidogenic enzymes are found in the central nervous system. Classical steroid receptors are localized in the cytoplasm, they exert regulatory actions on the genome, and their activation causes medium- and long-term effects. Non-classical receptors are located within the membrane and act as mediators of short-term effects. Other important players are co-repressors and co-activators that can interfere with or enhance the activity of steroid receptors. Beyond their function in stress, corticosteroids play a very important role in fear, anxiety, and memory functions. Patients with Cushing’s syndrome frequently develop mood disorder, reversible brain atrophy with transient memory loss, rarely delirium or psychosis. Well-known peripheral symptom is steroidal myopathy. In patients with Addison’s disease the main signs are weakness of muscles, lack of energy, decreased mental functions and reduced quality of life. Estrogen and progesterone have their own respective hormone receptors, whereas allopregnanolone acts via the GABA receptors. These hormones have significant role in the development of brain, the architecture of neural circuits and dendrites, density of axonal connections, and the number of neurons. They influence maturation, neuroprotection, seizures, cognitive functions, mood, anxiety, pain, and restitution of peripheral nerves. Androgens also affect cognitive functions, pain, anxiety, mood, and additionally aggression.

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