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Digit Ratio and Sex Hormones

Men and women may have different finger-length ratios as a result of different sex hormone exposure during early embryonic development.

By | September 6, 2011

PIZZODISEVO, FLICKR

The balance of sex hormones may explain why men have different finger-length proportions than women, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Women usually have an index finger that is longer than their ring finger, while the reverse is true in most men. Scientists have long suspected that sex hormones play a role in this difference, but until now, had no experimental evidence for such a mechanism.

University of Florida researchers examined the developing fingers in female and male mouse embryos. When they tweaked the levels of estrogen and testosterone the mice were exposed to in utero, the finger skeletal precursor cells divided at different rates. The fourth finger grew proportionally longer in response to additional testosterone, while estrogen made the second finger longer. The results suggest that digit length could be used as a marker for early prenatal exposure to sex hormones in humans, which has been linked to some diseases.

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Comments

Avatar of: Gmhs

Anonymous

September 6, 2011

Isn't this old news? I think I recall Simon Baron-Cohen mentioning something about this in The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain, which was published back in 2003...

Avatar of: Vaughan

Anonymous

September 6, 2011

It's my understanding that there's no fetal estrogen release, just maternal; so the male embryoes are getting a T+E cocktail (the T coming at crucial prenatal times) whereas the female embryoes are just getting E (with maybe a little T leaked from their brothers).  Would one expect this effect to be more profound in a single-birthing human compared to a mouse that has a litter of mixed gender?

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Anonymous

September 6, 2011

For perfectly identically-sized animals in a perfect laboratory setting, some effects are statistically seen, but throwing human genetics together with retrospectively evaluating what might have gone on decades earlier and is now long gone, and you have a big bowl of nothing.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

Isn't this old news? I think I recall Simon Baron-Cohen mentioning something about this in The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain, which was published back in 2003...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

It's my understanding that there's no fetal estrogen release, just maternal; so the male embryoes are getting a T+E cocktail (the T coming at crucial prenatal times) whereas the female embryoes are just getting E (with maybe a little T leaked from their brothers).  Would one expect this effect to be more profound in a single-birthing human compared to a mouse that has a litter of mixed gender?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

For perfectly identically-sized animals in a perfect laboratory setting, some effects are statistically seen, but throwing human genetics together with retrospectively evaluating what might have gone on decades earlier and is now long gone, and you have a big bowl of nothing.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

Isn't this old news? I think I recall Simon Baron-Cohen mentioning something about this in The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain, which was published back in 2003...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

It's my understanding that there's no fetal estrogen release, just maternal; so the male embryoes are getting a T+E cocktail (the T coming at crucial prenatal times) whereas the female embryoes are just getting E (with maybe a little T leaked from their brothers).  Would one expect this effect to be more profound in a single-birthing human compared to a mouse that has a litter of mixed gender?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 6, 2011

For perfectly identically-sized animals in a perfect laboratory setting, some effects are statistically seen, but throwing human genetics together with retrospectively evaluating what might have gone on decades earlier and is now long gone, and you have a big bowl of nothing.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 7, 2011

It has been know for a very long time, what is THE big story?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 7, 2011

It has been know for a very long time, what is THE big story?

Avatar of: Iwona Grad

Anonymous

September 7, 2011

It has been know for a very long time, what is THE big story?

Avatar of: Joy Wiele

Anonymous

September 8, 2011

"Usually" is the key word here. Women aren't made from a cookie cutter, so finger size ratios vary and are therefore a poor indicator of anything except ability to play the bass viola.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 8, 2011

"Usually" is the key word here. Women aren't made from a cookie cutter, so finger size ratios vary and are therefore a poor indicator of anything except ability to play the bass viola.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 8, 2011

"Usually" is the key word here. Women aren't made from a cookie cutter, so finger size ratios vary and are therefore a poor indicator of anything except ability to play the bass viola.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 15, 2011

It is an old news!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 15, 2011

It is an old news!

Avatar of: Gooras

Anonymous

September 15, 2011

It is an old news!

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