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Sex Steroid Hormones

- “Your body is not your own!”

What are Sex Steroid Hormones?

Where are the sex steroids produced?

Effects of Sex Steroid Hormones

Sex steroid bioavailabilty

Alcohol consumption affects sex steroid hormones

What are sex steroid hormones?

ENDOCRINE hormones are chemical “messengers”used for intercellular communication, released by glands directly into the bloodstream – there are 3 types of endocrine hormones, namely, amines, polypeptides, steroid hormones. For basic information on hormones:

Hormones 101 –“Feel Good, Look Good”

STEROID hormones (subset of endocrine hormones) are fat-soluble hormones produced from cholesterol - they include: glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, sex steroid hormones and vitamin D sterols

Steroid Hormones

SEX STEROID HORMONES (subset of steroid hormones) produce sex differences or support reproduction - these are the:

–   Androgens – include: DHEA, ANDROSTENEDIONE, TESTOSTERONE, DHT

Androgens

–   Estrogens – include: ESTRADIOL, ESTRONE, ESTRIOL

 

Estrogens

–   Progestagens - include: PROGESTERONE , PREGNENOLONE

PROGESTERONE – “Precursor to Androgens, Estrogens and Corticoids”

PREGNENOLONE

Where are the sex steroids produced?

All steroid hormones are produced/secreted by the ovaries (ovarian follicle /Corpus luteum), testes, prostate, and adrenal cortex - in addition, further conversions, break-downs and secretions occur inthe liver, extragonadal sites(E.g. adipose tissue, skin fibroblasts, bone, placenta) and in other target tissues.

Production requires certain enzymes

For more information, on these required enzymes, see:

Enzymes affecting Steroid Production /Activity

Effects of sex steroid hormones

Steroid sex hormones are largely ignored until we hit puberty - but then, as these hormones “kick in”, your body is no longer your own . . .

–   Physical changes - pimples, pubic hair,girls'breasts swell and hips become rounder, boys'facial hair begins to grow and their voices become deeper

–   Weight Maintenance becomes an issue –sex steroids are involved in adipogenesis (fat formation)

–   Emotions run high – angst, anger, confusion, depression, strong sexual urges.

–   PMS - at certain times of the month you have irrational feelings. E.g. feel weepy, have cravings, snap at people.

–   Pregnancy - Cravings, breast tenderness, weight gain, feeling tired, heightened sexual feelings, depression, an acute sense of smell, nausea, gray hair, straight hair gone curly, curly hair gone straight.

–   Cardiovascular disease;

–   Neurodegenerative disease

–   Cancer formation

–   Bone formation

 

Sex steroid bioavailability

Most sex steroid hormones are bound to carrier proteins to make them water-soluble in the blood - Only a small fraction circulates “free”/ unbound (considered to be biologically active).

 

–   Bioavailability of ESTRADIOL or TESTOSTERONEis determined by level of Sex hormone binding globulin(SHBG);

–   Bioavailability of PROGESTERONE (also CORTISOL and corticosteroids) is determined by level of Corticosteroid-binding protein (CBG)

Sex hormone-binding carriers

Alcohol consumption affects sex steroid hormones

Study investigated the relationships between alcohol consumption and serum levels of sex steroids - TESTOSTERONE (T), ANDROSTENEDIONE (A4), DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE sulphate (DHEAS), ESTRONE (E1), ESTRADIOL (E2)) and sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in 790 pre- and 1,291 post-menopausal women, who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Results supported the hypothesis of an influence of alcohol intake on sex hormone concentrations in blood:

–   Pre-menopausal women - who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol had about 30% higher DHEAS, T and free T (fT), 20% higher A4 and about 40% higher E1, concentrations compared to women who were non-consumers. E2, fE2 and SHBG concentrations showed no association with current alcohol intake.

–   Post-menopausal women – concentrations of DHEAS, fT, T, A4, and ESTRONEwere between 10% and 20% higher in women who consumed more than 25 g/day of alcohol compared to non-consumers. E2 or fE2 were not associated with alcohol intake at all. SHBG levels were about 15% lower in alcohol consumers compared to non-consumers.

Rinaldi S et al, Relationship of alcohol intake and sex steroid concentrations in blood in pre- and post-menopausal women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Oct;17(8):1033-43. PubMed

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