Sex-steroid derived compounds induce sex-specific effects on autonomic nervous system function in humans

Behav Neurosci. 2003 Dec;117(6):1125-34. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.117.6.1125.


The physiological and psychological effects of 2 human sex-steroid derived compounds, 4.16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and l,3,5(10),16-estratetraen-3-ol(EST) were measured in 24 subjects who participated in a within-subjects, double-blind experiment. A dissociation was evident in the physiological effects of AND, in that it increased physiological arousal in women but decreased it in men. EST did not significantly affect physiological arousal in women or men. Neither compound significantly affected mood. AND is an androgen derivative that is the most prevalent androstene in human male sweat, male axillary hair, and on the male axillary skin surface. The authors argue that AND's opposite effects on physiology in men and women further implicate this compound in chemical communication between humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Androstadienes / pharmacology*
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Autonomic Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estrenes / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odorants
  • Sex Attractants / pharmacology*
  • Sex Factors


  • Androstadienes
  • Estrenes
  • Sex Attractants
  • 1,3,5,(10),16-estratetraen-3-ol
  • 4,16-androstadien-3-one