Activation of a membrane-associated androgen receptor promotes cell death in primary cortical astrocytes

Joshua W. Gatson, Meharvan Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


In the central nervous system, androgens can exert either protective or damage-promoting effects. For example, testosterone protects neurons against β-amyloid toxicity, whereas in other studies, testosterone exacerbated stroke-induced lesion size. The mechanism underlying this duality of androgens is still unclear. Recently, our laboratory reported that androgens elicit opposite effects on the ERK/MAPK and Akt signaling pathways, depending on whether a membrane androgen receptor (AR) or intracellular AR was activated. By extension, we hypothesized that androgens may affect cell viability differently depending on which receptor is activated. Here, we found that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) protected primary cortical astrocytes from the metabolic and oxidative insult associated with iodoacetic acid-induced toxicity, whereas DHT-BSA, a cell impermeable analog of DHT that preferentially targets the membrane AR, suppressed Akt signaling, increased caspase 3/7 activity, and enhanced iodoacetic acid-induced cell death. Interestingly, DHT-BSA also blocked the protective effects of DHT and estradiol. Collectively, these data support the existence of two, potentially competing, pathways for androgens in a given cell or tissue that may provide insight into the controversy of whether androgen therapy is beneficial or detrimental.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2458-2464
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Activation of a membrane-associated androgen receptor promotes cell death in primary cortical astrocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this