This article is part of a Special Issue "Puberty and Adolescence". The pubertal period is a time of change in an animal's response to stress, and it is a second period of sexual differentiation of the brain. Recently, it was discovered that particular stressors during the prolonged pubertal period of female mice result in enduring changes in behavioral responsiveness of the brain to estradiol and progesterone. Depending on the behavior, pubertal immune challenge or shipping from suppliers may decrease, eliminate, or even reverse the effects of estradiol. Pubertal immune challenge results in changes in the number of estrogen receptor-immunoreactive cells in key brain areas suggesting a cellular mechanism for this remodeling of the brain's response to hormones. A hypothesis is put forward that predicts that particular adverse experiences in girls may cause long-term alterations in the brain's response to estradiol and/or progesterone via activation of the immune system. This could lead to mood disorders or altered response to any behavior influenced by estradiol in humans.
Keywords: Anxiety; Cognitive function; Depression; Estradiol; Immune challenge; Lipopolysaccharide; Progesterone; Puberty; Sexual behavior; Stress.
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