Real men need oestrogen


By Nell Boyce in Washington DC THE gender gap between the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone is not so huge after all. Researchers say oestrogen can bind to the same receptor as testosterone, and may play a role in normal male development. Testosterone binds to androgen receptors in cells, turning on genes that control the development of the male reproductive system. Androgen receptors in prostate cancer cells sometimes respond to oestrogen, but most researchers had assumed that these malignant cells had a mutant form of androgen receptor. Now Chawnshang Chang and his colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York have shown that oestrogen can activate normal androgen receptors in the presence of a substance called ARA70, which exists naturally in the body (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 95, p 5527). Oestrogen may contribute to normal reproductive development in men, the researchers say. They cite the case of a patient with an unusual form of ARA 70 who also had genital abnormalities,
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