Several endocrine glands produce steroid hormones. Thanks to the work of chemists and
biochemists, the main synthetic as well as metabolic pathways of steroid hormones were included in the
textbooks more than 50 years ago and the classical endocrine gland functions were identified. Later on,
evidence of steroid hormone effects beyond the classical endocrine gland function has been accumulating.
Testosterone was shown to participate in the stress response and may influence coping with stressors.
We have shown a decrease in testosterone concentrations in saliva in children undergoing a school
exam compared to values on a non-exam school day. Testosterone has been associated with different
cognitive functions in both adults and children. Circulating testosterone has been linked to negative
symptoms of schizophrenia. Aldosterone is acting via mineralocorticoid receptors, which are thought to
be fully occupied by glucocorticoids in the brain. Until now, an action of aldosterone in the brain has
not been considered at all, because the enzyme 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2, which
would enable aldosterone to bind to receptors is absent in most of the brain areas. We have brought
evidence that aldosterone can act in the brain and produce anxiogenic and depressogenic effects. To
facilitate the translation of animal findings into clinical research, we have developed methodology for
measurement of salivary aldosterone and obtained first data on a relationship between salivary aldosterone
and trait anxiety. We have shown that salivary aldosterone concentrations reflect treatment outcome
in patients with major depressive disorder.
Keywords: Androgens, mineralocorticoid, stress, cognition, children, psychiatric disorders.
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