Physiologic surges of serum androgen, estrogen and progesterone normally occur in both rat and human males during the neonatal periods. The effect of these hormone surges on the sex accessory tissues is not known. This study demonstrates that neonatal dihydrotestosterone, 17β-estradiol, or progesterone can permanently alter the androgen sensitivity of adult rat sex accessory tissues. Neonatal dihydrotestosterone or progesterone can permanently increase the androgen sensitivity of the adult prostate above normal while neonatal estradiol permanently decreases adult prostate androgen sensitivity below normal. The results of this preliminary study suggest that normally occurring neonatal hormone surges may permanently mark, or imprint, the prostate and determine its future growth in adulthood.
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