general cellular action

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Sex steroids are similar to other steroids in that they combine with intracellular protein receptors before the complex migrates to the nucleus to dictate protein synthesis. Therefore, the response of an individual cell to a sex steroid depends upon the presence of its cytosolic receptors and the presence of regions of DNA which are specifically targetted by the steroid-receptor complex.

Occasionally, steroids can act on cell surface receptors. This is true for pregnenolone and its derivatives which can act on neuronal GABA receptors.

Individual sex steroids modulate the expression of receptors for other sex steroids. For example, oestrogen increases the number of receptors for progestogens.

Last reviewed 01/2018