Testosterone: a major determinant of extragenital sexual dimorphism

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Science  20 Mar 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4488, pp. 1285-1294
DOI: 10.1126/science.7010603


Sexual dimorphism in selected extragenital tissues is described with emphasis on the molecular basis of the differences. Testosterone rather than 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone appears to be the major intracellular androgen in organs other than skin and reproductive tract, but other steroid metabolites and their receptors are required to produce the diverse tissue differences observed in males and females. There is also evidence that multiple hormones from several endocrine glands are required to act in concert with androgens to produce and maintain their effects. Although many of the consequences of sexual dimorphism, such as body size and strength, have been evident for centuries, other differences between males and females such as disease incidence, response to drugs and toxins, and the metabolism and assimilation of dietary constituents have only recently been discovered.

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