Endocrine induced changes in brain function during pregnancy

P. J. Brunton, J. A. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The female sex steroid hormones estrogens and progesterone are produced in large amounts in pregnancy increasing as pregnancy progresses These hormones have essential peripheral actions to maintain pregnancy, and to secure safe delivery at term They also have important actions on the brain in pregnancy generally through interactions with neuropeptide systems in the brain or through modulating the actions of circulating peptide hormones on the brain Together these steroid-peptide links form short chains that evoke changes in central physiological systems that favour the pregnancy including altered control of water and electrolyte balance appetite and energy partitioning and stress responses In parallel such links prepare the brain through inhibition of oxytocin secretion until it is needed to support parturition and for immediate expression of maternal behaviour postpartum We focus here on recent advances in understanding some of these steroid-peptide links especially on non classical progesterone actions through allopregnanolone its neuroactive steroid metabolite and opioid peptide mechanisms (C) 2010 Elsevier B V All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-215
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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