Steroid binding at sigma receptors suggests a link between endocrine, nervous, and immune systems

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Science  08 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4849, pp. 219-221
DOI: 10.1126/science.2832949


Specific sigma binding sites have been identified in the mammalian brain and lymphoid tissue. In this study, certain gonadal and adrenal steroids, particularly progesterone, were found to inhibit sigma receptor binding in homogenates of brain and spleen. The findings suggest that steroids are naturally occurring ligands for sigma receptors and raise the possibility that these sites mediate some aspects of steroid-induced mental disturbances and alterations in immune functions.