Future Avenues Of Investigation

Several areas concerning the normal physiological effects of androgens in women warrant additional study. These include:

  1. Determining the role of androgens and estrogens in the sexual dimorphism of brain structure and function.
  2. Understanding the steroid-specific effects in relation to the enzymatic conversion of the sex steroids in tissues, i.e., discerning which hormone is responsible for which effect.
  3. Developing sensitive and specific assays for measurement of androgens and their metabolites in women, as well as methods to accurately access the tissue production and intracrine action of androgens.
  4. Determining the physiological contribution of androgens to body composition, muscle mass, and strength.
  5. Ascertaining if androgens contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome in hyperandrogenic women or if the increased cardiovascular risk is a result of other factors such as hyperinsulinism.
  6. Understanding the relationship of the immune system and autoimmune diseases to androgens. Although not discussed in the text, an important aspect of sexual dimorphism is that females are much more likely to develop autoimmune diseases than men. Further investigation is required to understand the role of physiological concentrations of androgens in the normal function of the immune system and possible protection against the development of autoimmune disorders (see ref. 71).
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