Gonadal hormones modulate neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) of adult rodents in complex ways. Estradiol, the most potent estrogen, initially enhances and subsequently suppresses cell proliferation in the dentate gryus of adult female rodents. Much less is known about how estradiol modulates neurogenesis in the adult male rodent; however, recent evidence suggests that estradiol may have a moderate effect on cell proliferation but enhances cell survival in the DG of newly synthesized cells but only when estradiol is administered during a specific stage in the cell maturation cycle in the adult male rodent. Testosterone likely plays a role in adult neurogenesis, although there have been no direct studies to address this. However, pilot studies from our laboratory suggest that testosterone up-regulates cell survival but not cell proliferation in the DG of adult male rats. Progesterone appears to attenuate the estradiol-induced enhancement of cell proliferation. Neurosteroids such as allopregnalone decrease neurogenesis in adult rodents, while pregnancy and motherhood differentially regulate adult neurogenesis in the adult female rodent. Very few studies have investigated the effects of gonadal hormones on male rodents; however, studies have indicated that there is a gender difference in the response to hormone-regulated hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult. Clearly, more work needs to be done to elucidate the effects of gonadal hormones on neurogenesis in the DG of both male and female rodents.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss Inc.