Role of corticosteroids in female reproduction

D. W. Brann, V. B. Mahesh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Corticosteroids, ACTH, and stress can exert inhibitory and facilitory effects on reproduction. The purpose of this review is to reconcile the divergent effects of corticosteroids on gonadotropin secretion based on recent work in the area. Whether stimulation or inhibition of gonadotropin secretion is observed appears to depend on two important variables: 1) length of exposure, and 2) background of estrogen priming. The acute administration of ACTH and certain corticosteroids to estrogen-primed animals brings about the release of LH and FSH. Corticosteroids have also been shown by some investigators to cause selective release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) both in vitro and in vivo. This selective facilitation of FSH release by corticosteroids may explain many deleterious effects on reproduction observed after adrenalectomy, and it may have relevance in explaining the beneficial effects of corticosteroids in inducing ovulation in anovulatory patients suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Finally, evidence is presented which suggests that adrenal steroids may participate in initiation and synchronization of the preovulatory LH and FSH surge, as well as the secondary FSH surge seen on estrus in the rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2691-2698
Number of pages8
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1991


  • Corticosteroid receptors
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Ovulation
  • Progesterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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