The greater prevalence and incidence of Parkinson's disease (PD) in men suggest a beneficial effect of sex hormones. Neuroactive steroids have neuroprotective activities thus offering interesting option for disease-modifying therapy for PD. Neuroactive steroids are also neuromodulators of neurotransmitter systems and may thus help to control PD symptoms and side effect of dopamine medication. Here, we review the effect on sex hormones (estrogen, androgen, progesterone and its metabolites) as well as androstenediol, pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone) in human studies and in animal models of PD. The effect of neuroactive steroids is reviewed by considering sex and hormonal status to help identify specifically for women and men with PD what might be a preventive approach or a symptomatic treatment. PD is a complex disease and the pathogenesis likely involves multiple cellular processes. Thus it might be useful to target different cellular mechanisms that contribute to neuronal loss and neuroactive steroids provide therapeutics options as they have multiple mechanisms of action.
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