The perimenopausal increase in circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels during the menopausal transition (MT) is accompanied by other adrenal steroids that have the potential to alter the estrogen/androgen balance and explain the wide inter-woman range of estrogen-related symptoms experienced during the MT.
Annual serum samples from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which had previously been analyzed for immunoreactive estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), DHEAS and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), were selected based on DHEAS concentration and analyzed for immunoreactive and bioactive estrogens and androgens, including immunoreactive androstenedione (Adione), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 5-androstene-3β,17β-diol (androstenediol, Adiol).
A two-fold increase in circulating Adione and T was found to rise in parallel with the rise in circulating DHEAS, while DHEA and Adiol concentrations rose seven to eightfold. Circulating Adiol, which has both androgenic and estrogenic biological activity, was significantly associated (p<0.02) with circulating estrogen bioactivity only when E2 concentrations were low and Adiol levels were high.
The wide range of circulating levels of Adiol and its contribution to total circulating estrogenicity during the MT is consistent with the observed inter-woman difference in symptoms at this time. Therefore, we conclude that Adiol contributes to circulating estrogenicity when E2 production falls at menopause and may contribute significantly to the endocrine changes experienced by midlife women.
Androstenediol; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
It is now recognized that mean circulating DHEAS concentrations in most midlife women exhibit a positive inflection starting in the early perimenopause, continuing through the early post menopause and returning to early perimenopausal levels by late post menopause. This rise in mean DHEAS is accompanied by concomitant rises in testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosteone (DHEA), androstenedione (Adione), and an equal rise androstenediol (Adiol). These observations suggest that there is a specific relationship between the circulating levels of steroids emanating from the adrenal, declining ovarian function and stages of the menopausal transition (MT). This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the menopausal stage-specific change in circulating DHEAS is associated with concomitant changes in the circulating pattern of adrenal steroids and that some of these adrenal androgens could influence the circulating estrogen/androgen balance.
Stored annual serum samples (n=120) were first selected to represent four longitudinal DS profiles of individual women in order to assess and compare changes in the adrenal contribution to circulating steroids.
Changes in mean circulating DHEAS levels in midlife women during the MT is associated with changes in mean circulating Testosterone (T), androstendione (Adione), and androstenediol (Adiol). Mean Adione and T concentrations changed the least while mean DHEAS and Adiol changed the most.
Changes in circulating steroid hormone emanating from the adrenal during the menopausal transition may be more important than the decline of ovarian function in terms of altering the estrogen/androgen balance.
DHEAS; androstenediol; estrogen; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
Circulating adrenal steroids rise during the menopausal transition (MT) in most mid-aged women and may contribute to differences in between-woman symptoms as well as ultimate health outcomes. However, the mechanism(s) for this shift in adrenal steroid production in mid-aged women is not known.
To determine if hormone replacement therapy (HT) for one year can modulate adrenal androgen production.
Younger (9.8 +/− 0.4 y/o, n=20) and older (22.7+/−0.4 y/o, n=37) female laboratory macaques were ovariectomized (OVX), and then each group was treated with different regimens of HT for up to one year. Changes in adrenal histology and circulating adrenal androgens were monitored following estradiol treatment alone (E) or estrogen plus progesterone (E+P), and these changes were compare to the same measures in similar aged animals given vehicle (V).
Zona reticularis (ZR) area and serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) were higher in younger compared to older V-treated animals (P< 0.02). Both E and E+P treatments decreased circulating DHEAS in the younger group (P<0.05). While E also decreased DHEAS in the older group, this was not statistically significant. In contrast, E+P treatment in the older group resulted in a rise in DHEAS over V, which was significantly higher than the results of E alone (p< 0.01). Circulating concentrations of DHEA exhibited similar trends but these changes did not reach statistical significance.
These data demonstrate that intervention with ovarian steroids can modulate adrenal androgen production in female higher primates and that both animal age and type of HT regimen determines the adrenal response.
Adrenal; Steroids; Hormone Therapy; Replacement
We propose that the adrenal gland of an older higher primate female animal model will respond to a human chorionic gonadotropic (hCG) hormone challenge by secreting additional dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Such a response in surgically and chemically-castrated animals will provide proof-of-concept and a validated animal model for future studies to explore the rise of DHEAS during the menopausal transition of women.
Twenty four 18–26 y/o female cynomolgus monkeys were screened for ovarian function then either ovariectomized (n=4) or treated with a gonadotropic releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) (n=20) to block ovarian steroid production. Following a recovery period from surgery or down-regulation, a single dose challenge (1,000 IU; IM) of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) was then administered in order to determine if LH/CG could accelerate circulating DHEAS production. Serum DHEAS, bioactive LH and urinary metabolites of ovarian sex steroids were monitored before, during and following these treatments.
Circulating LH bioactivity and immunoreactive DHEAS concentrations were suppressed in all animals 14 days post administration of GnRHa. Urinary metabolites of estradiol and progesterone remained low following surgery or the flare reaction to GnRHa. Circulating DHEAS levels were increased following hCG administration and the increase in individual animals was proportional to the pre-treatment DHEAS baseline. Circulating DHEAS concentrations were positively correlated to endogenous LH bioactive concentrations prior to, and were increased by hCG challenge while no concomitant change was observed in ovarian steroid hormone excretion.
These data demonstrate a positive adrenal androgen response to LH/CG in older female higher primates and suggests a mechanism for the rise in adrenal androgen production during the menopausal transition in women. These results also illustrate that the nonhuman primate animal model can be effectively used to investigate this phenomenon.
DHEAS; menopause; adrenal androgens; LH/hCG
A rise in circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentration occurs during the menopausal transition (MT) that is ovarian-stage but not age-related. The objective of this study was to determine the source of the rise in circulating DHEAS.
Circulating DS concentrations in women that had undergone bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) were compared to the pattern of circulating DHEAS in women that progressed through the MT naturally. Annual serum samples from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) over a ten year study period were used. From1272 women in the SWAN cohort that were eligible for longitudinal evaluation of DHEAS annual samples, eighty one underwent BSO during the pre- or early-perimenopause stage of the menopausal transition and were potentially available for study. Of these eighty one BSO participants, twenty had sufficient annual samples for evaluation of the post-BSO trajectory of circulating DHEAS. SWAN women not having previous hormone replacement therapy those with intact ovaries were compared to women that underwent a BSO immediately after a pre- or early perimenopausal annual visit. There were no intervention and circulating concentrations of DHEAS was the main outcome.
A detectable rise in DHEAS was observed in fourteen (70%) of the twenty BSO women which is similar to the proportion (85%) of women with intact ovaries that had a detectable DHEAS rise. The mean rise in DHEAS (5-8%) was similar in both BSO and non-BSO women.
The MT rise in DHEAS (5-8%) occurring in the absence of ovaries is largely of adrenal origin.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; menopause; adrenal; ovary
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity may influence the production of adrenal androgen precursors and testosterone. Use of ACE inhibitors may therefore have an influence on serum sex hormone concentrations in older men.
Design and Methods
1486 out of 2,000 community-dwelling Chinese men aged 65 years who participated in a cohort study were randomly selected to have archived fasting morning serum analyzed for androgen precursors and sex hormones. DNA was extracted from whole blood and analyzed for ACE gene I/D polymorphism.
Subjects with the ACE gene D allele (higher ACE activity) had higher serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulphate and DHEA than those with I/I genotype (P=0.014 and 0.018 respectively, Mann Whitney test). These differences were not significant after Bonferroni correction. Among those with history of hypertension, but without diabetes mellitus or cardiac failure, users of ACE inhibitors had significantly lower serum DHEA (median 1.78 versus 1.49 ng/ml in non-users, P =0.0074, Mann Whitney test) and also tended to have lower serum androstenedione and androst-5-ene-3β,17β-diol (0.68 versus 0.72 ng/ml in non-users; 552.4 versus 624.1 pg/ml respectively, both P values <0.05). Serum testosterone and estradiol were not significantly changed.
ACE inhibitor use was associated with lower serum DHEA in older men.
androgen; dehydroepiandrosterone; angiotensin converting enzyme; angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor; gene polymorphism
Context: Adrenal androgen excess is found in ∼25-60%% of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but the mechanisms underlying PCOS-related adrenal androgen excess are unclear.
Objective: To determine whether adrenal androgen excess is manifest in a nonhuman primate model for PCOS, Participants: Six prenatally androgenized (PA) and 6 control female rhesus monkeys of similar age, body weight and BMI were studied during days 2-6 of two menstrual cycles or anovulatory 30-day periods.
Interventions: Pre-dexamethasone adrenal steroid levels were assessed in the first cycle (cycle 1). In a subsequent cycle (cycle 2), occurring 1-3 cycles following cycle 1, adrenal steroids were determined 14.5-16.0h after an i.m. injection of 0.5mg/kg dexamethasone [post-dexamethasone levels] and following an i.v. injection of 50μg ACTH1-39.
Results: Both before and after dexamethasone, serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in PA females exceeded those in controls. Following ACTH injection, PA females exhibited higher circulating levels of DHEA, androstenedione and corticosterone, but comparable levels of 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, cortisol, DHEAS, and testosterone, compared to controls.
Conclusion: Enhanced basal and ACTH-stimulated adrenal androgen levels in PA female monkeys may reflect up-regulation of 17,20 lyase activity in the adrenal zona reticularis, causing adrenal androgen excess comparable to that found in PCOS women with adrenal androgen excess. These findings open the possibility that PCOS adrenal hyperandrogenism may have its origins in fetal androgen excess re-programming of adrenocortical function.
prenatally androgenized; DHEA; androstenedione; fetal programming; zona reticularis
In synovial cells of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), conversion products of major anti-inflammatory androgens are as yet unknown but may be proinflammatory. Therefore, therapy with androgens in RA could be a problem. This study was carried out in order to compare conversion products of androgens in RA and OA synoviocytes. In 26 OA and 24 RA patients, androgen conversion in synovial cells was investigated using radiolabeled substrates and analysis by thin-layer chromatography and HPLC. Aromatase expression was studied by immunohistochemistry. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) was converted into androstenediol, androstenedione (ASD), 16αOH-DHEA, 7αOH-DHEA, testosterone, estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), and 16αOH-testosterone (similar in OA and RA). Surprisingly, levels of E2, E3, and 16α-hydroxylated steroids were as high as levels of testosterone. In RA and OA, 5α-dihydrotestosterone increased conversion of DHEA into testosterone but not into estrogens. The second androgen, ASD, was converted into 5α-dihydro-ASD, testosterone, and negligible amounts of E1, E2, E3, or 16αOH-testosterone. 5α-dihydro-ASD levels were higher in RA than OA. The third androgen, testosterone, was converted into ASD, 5α-dihydro-ASD, 5α-dihydrotestosterone, and negligible quantities of E1 and E2. 5α-dihydrotestosterone was higher in RA than OA. ASD and testosterone nearly completely blocked aromatization of androgens. In addition, density of aromatase-positive cells and concentration of released E2, E3, and free testosterone from superfused synovial tissue was similar in RA and OA but estrogens were markedly higher than free testosterone. In conclusion, ASD and testosterone might be favorable anti-inflammatory compounds because they decrease aromatization and increase anti-inflammatory 5α-reduced androgens. In contrast, DHEA did not block aromatization but yielded high levels of estrogens and proproliferative 16α-hydroxylated steroids. Androgens were differentially converted to pro- and anti-inflammatory steroid hormones via diverse pathways.
The human adrenal reticularis produces the so-called adrenal androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA-sulfate (DHEA-S). As opposed to the cortisol and aldosterone little is known regarding the mechanisms that regulate the production of the adrenal androgens. Several recent studies have shown that type II 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD3B2), cytochrome b5 (CYB5), and steroid sulfotransferase (SULT2A1) play an important role in the regulation of adrenal androgen production. Specifically, adrenal production of DHEA-S is correlated with reticularis expression of SULT2A1 and CYB5. In contrast, HSD3B2 has an inverse correlation with adrenal androgen production likely due to its unique ability to remove precursors from the pathway leading to DHEA. Therefore, its expression is limited to the adrenal glomerulosa/fasciculata but not in reticularis. The differential expression of these three proteins appears to be critical for reticularis function. In this review, we focus on studies that have begun to define the mechanisms regulating the transcription of these genes. Understanding the mechanisms controlling differential expression of these proteins should provide novel information about the human adrenal reticularis and its production of DHEA and DHEA-S.
Adrenal; Androgen; Cytochrome b5; DHEA-sulfotransferase; 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
To evaluate the metabolic changes in urinary steroids in pre- and post-menopausal women and men with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC).
Quantitative steroid profiling combined with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to measure the urinary concentrations of 84 steroids in both pre- (n = 21, age: 36.95 ± 7.19 yr) and post-menopausal female (n = 19, age: 52.79 ± 7.66 yr), and male (n = 16, age: 41.88 ± 8.48 yr) patients with PTC. After comparing the quantitative data of the patients with their corresponding controls (pre-menopause women: n = 24, age: 33.21 ± 10.48 yr, post-menopause women: n = 16, age: 49.67 ± 8.94 yr, male: n = 20, age: 42.75 ± 4.22 yr), the levels of steroids in the patients were normalized to the mean concentration of the controls to exclude gender and menopausal variations.
Many urinary steroids were up-regulated in all PTC patients compared to the controls. Among them, the levels of three active androgens, androstenedione, androstenediol and 16α-hydroxy DHEA, were significantly higher in the pre-menopausal women and men with PTC. The corticoid levels were increased slightly in the PTC men, while progestins were not altered in the post-menopausal PTC women. Estrogens were up-regulated in all PTC patients but 2-hydroxyestrone and 2-hydroxy-17β-estradiol were remarkably changed in both pre-menopausal women and men with PTC. For both menopausal and gender differences, the 2-hydroxylation, 4-hydroxylation, 2-methoxylation, and 4-methoxylation of estrogens and 16α-hydroxylation of DHEA were differentiated between pre- and post-menopausal PTC women (P < 0.001). In particular, the metabolic ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 2-hydroxy-17β-estradiol, which could reveal the enzyme activity of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, showed gender differences in PTC patients (P < 1 × 10-7).
These results are expected be helpful for better understanding the pathogenic differences in PTC according to gender and menopausal conditions.
Steroids; Thyroid cancer; Menopause; Gender difference; GC-MS
While androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) remains the primary treatment for metastatic prostate cancer (PCa), castration does not eliminate androgens from the prostate tumor microenvironment, and residual intratumoral androgens are implicated in nearly every mechanism by which androgen receptor (AR)-mediated signaling promotes castration-resistant disease. The uptake and intratumoral (intracrine) conversion of circulating adrenal androgens such as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) to steroids capable of activating the wild type AR is a recognized driver of castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, less well-characterized adrenal steroids, including 11-deoxcorticosterone (DOC) and 11beta-hydroxyandrostenedione (11OH-AED) may also play a previously unrecognized role in promoting AR activation. In particular, recent data demonstrate that the 5α-reduced metabolites of DOC and 11OH-AED are activators of the wild type AR. Given the well-recognized presence of SRD5A activity in CRPC tissue, these observations suggest that in the low androgen environment of CRPC, alternative sources of 5α-reduced ligands may supplement AR activation normally mediated by the canonical 5α-reduced agonist, 5α-DHT. Herein we review the emerging data that suggests a role for these alternative steroids of adrenal origin in activating the AR, and discuss the enzymatic pathways and novel downstream metabolites mediating these effects. We conclude by discussing the potential implications of these findings for CRPC progression, particularly in context of new agents such as abiraterone and enzalutamide which target the AR-axis for prostate cancer therapy.
intracrine steroidogenesis; adrenal androgen; deoxycorticosterone; 11beta-hydroxyandrostenedione; 11ketodihydrotestosterone; castration resistant prostate cancer; androgen receptor.
Lavage of the ductal systems of the breast provides fluid (DLF) containing hormones and products of hormone actions that may represent more accurately the composition of the breast than samples collected from blood or urine. The present study was undertaken to assess the presence of potential cancer biomarkers, their variation among individuals at high risk for breast cancer, and differences associated with menopause and tamoxifen treatment.
Seventy seven tamoxifen-eligible subjects with a 5-year breast cancer risk estimate (Gail > 1.6%)(N = 53) or recently diagnosed breast cancer (N = 24) were offered tamoxifen therapy; those not accepting tamoxifen were under observation only. After six months, all subjects underwent ductal lavage (DL) in an unaffected breast. Estradiol (E2), estrone sulfate, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, progesterone, cathepsin D and epidermal growth factor (EGF) were measured in DLF by immunoassays. Data were expressed as the mass of analyte per mg of protein in DLF and normalized by natural log transformation.
With the exception of DHEA, none of the analytes measured were significantly lower in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women. The mean loge concentration difference in estradiol was 10.9%. Tamoxifen treatment for 6 months did not result in a significantly greater concentration of E2 or in any of the other analytes in DLF of pre- or postmenopausal women. The between-duct variance of the concentration of free steroids within the same breast averaged 51% less than that between subjects, and was similar to that of non-diffusible proteins.
The maintenance of estradiol concentrations in the breast after menopause demonstrates the importance of local biosynthesis. The fact that DLF E2 does not reflect the high serum concentrations of E2 during tamoxifen treatment indicates that breast concentrations of estradiol may be under feedback control. Unlike studies of low risk populations, progesterone concentrations were not significantly less in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women. The similarity in variance of free steroids and protein analytes between ducts of a breast indicates little transfer of steroids between lobules.
Breast; Cancer; Risk; Lavage; Hormones
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and the dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) are steroids produced mainly by the adrenal cortex. There is evidence from both human and animal models suggesting beneficial effects of these steroids for obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteoporosis, conditions associated with the post-menopausal period. Accordingly, we hypothesized that DHEA supplementation in ovariectomized (OVX) female rats fed a high-fat diet would maintain glucose-induced insulin secretion (GSIS) and pancreatic islet function. OVX resulted in a 30% enlargement of the pancreatic islets area compared to the control rats, which was accompanied by a 50% reduction in the phosphorylation of AKT protein in the pancreatic islets. However, a short-term high-fat diet induced insulin resistance, accompanied by impaired GSIS in isolated pancreatic islets. These effects were reversed by DHEA treatment, with improved insulin sensitivity to levels similar to the control group, and with increased serine phosphorylation of the AKT protein. These data confirm the protective effect of DHEA on the endocrine pancreas in a situation of diet-induced overweight and low estrogen concentrations, a phenotype similar to that of the post-menopausal period.
•Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a physiological precursor of androgens and estrogens.•Ovariectomized rats fed a high-fat diet showed insulin resistance and impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion.•These effects were reversed by DHEA treatment, with improved insulin secretion and sensitivity.
High fat diet; Menopause; Pancreatic islets; Insulin sensitivity; Insulin secretion; p-Akt/Akt; DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEA-S, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; HFD, high-fat diet; SHAM, sham-operated rats; SHL, sham rats fed a HFD; OVX, ovariectomized rats; OHL, ovariectomized rats fed HFD; OHLD, ovariectomized rats fed a HFD and treated with DHEA; Kitt, glucose disappearance rate; GTT, glucose tolerance test; GSIS, glucose-induced insulin secretion; SDS–PAGE, sodium dodecyl sulfate poly-acrylamide electrophoresis; PI, propidium iodide; PI3K, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase; PI3K-PDK1-Akt, PI3K-3-phosphoinositide dependent kinase-Akt
Steroid metabolism is important in various species. The accumulation of androgen metabolite, androstenone, in pig adipose tissue is negatively associated with pork flavor, odour and makes the meat unfit for human consumption. The 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 7 (17βHSD7) expressed abundantly in porcine liver, and it was previously suggested to be associated with androstenone levels. Understanding the enzymes and metabolic pathways responsible for androstenone as well as other steroids metabolism is important for improving the meat quality. At the same time, metabolism of steroids is known to be species- and tissue-specific. Therefore it is important to investigate between-species variations in the hepatic steroid metabolism and to elucidate the role of 17βHSD7 in this process. Here we used an effective methodological approach, liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, to investigate species-specific metabolism of androstenone, testosterone and beta-estradiol in HepG2 cell line, and pig cultured hepatocytes. Species- and concentration-depended effect of steroids on 17βHSD7 gene expression was also investigated. It was demonstrated that the investigated steroids can regulate the 17βHSD7 gene expression in HepG2 and primary cultured porcine hepatocytes in a concentration-dependent and species-dependent pattern. Investigation of steroid metabolites demonstrated that androstenone formed a 3′-hydroxy compound 3β-hydroxy-5α-androst-16-ene. Testosterone was metabolized to 4-androstene-3,17-dione. Estrone was found as the metabolite for β-estradiol. Inhibition study with 17βHSD inhibitor apigenin showed that apigenin didn’t affect androstenone metabolism. Apigenin at high concentration (50 µM) tends to inhibit testosterone metabolism but this inhibition effect was negligible. Beta-estradiol metabolism was notably inhibited with apigenin at high concentration. The study also established that the level of testosterone and β-estradiol metabolites was markedly increased after co-incubation with high concentration of apigenin. This study established that 17βHSD7 is not the key enzyme responsible for androstenone and testosterone metabolism in porcine liver cells.
Epi-testosterone (epiT) is the 17α-epimer of testosterone. It has been found at similar level as testosterone in human biological fluids. This steroid has thus been used as a natural internal standard for assessing testosterone abuse in sports. EpiT has been also shown to accumulate in mammary cyst fluid and in human prostate. It was found to possess antiandrogenic activity as well as neuroprotective effects. So far, the exact pathway leading to the formation of epiT has not been elucidated.
In this report, we describe the isolation and characterization of the enzyme 17α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. The name is given according to its most potent activity. Using cells stably expressing the enzyme, we show that 17α-HSD catalyzes efficienty the transformation of 4-androstenedione (4-dione), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), 5α-androstane-3,17-dione (5α-dione) and androsterone (ADT) into their corresponding 17α-hydroxy-steroids : epiT, 5-androstene-3β,17α-diol (epi5diol), 5α-androstane-17α-ol-3-one (epiDHT) and 5α-androstane-3α,17α-diol (epi3α-diol), respectively. Similar to other members of the aldo-keto reductase family that possess the ability to reduce the keto-group into hydroxyl-group at different position on the steroid nucleus, 17α-HSD could also catalyze the transformation of DHT, 5α-dione, and 5α-pregnane-3,20-dione (DHP) into 3α-diol, ADT and 5α-pregnane-3α-ol-20-one (allopregnanolone) through its less potent 3α-HSD activity. We also have over-expressed the 17α-HSD in Escherichia coli and have purified it by affinity chromatography. The purified enzyme exhibits the same catalytic properties that have been observed with cultured HEK-293 stably transfected cells. Using quantitative Realtime-PCR to study tissue distribution of this enzyme in the mouse, we observed that it is expressed at very high levels in the kidney.
The present study permits to clarify the biosynthesis pathway of epiT. It also offers the opportunity to study gene regulation and function of this enzyme. Further study in human will allow a better comprehension about the use of epiT in drug abuse testing; it will also help to clarify the importance of its accumulation in breast cyst fluid and prostate, as well as its potential role as natural antiandrogen.
The mechanisms causing the rise in adrenal androgen production during the course of adrenarche remain to be defined. However, the increase in steroid release is clearly associated with a series of intra-adrenal changes in the expression of steroidogenic enzymes needed for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) production, as well as an expansion of the adrenal zona reticularis (ZR). We and others have defined the adrenal expression pattern of key steroidogenic enzymes during adrenarche. As adrenarche proceeds, the expanding ZR expresses greater levels of cytochrome b5 (CYB5) and steroid sulfotransferase (SULT2A1) than the adjacent fasciculata. In contrast, the growing ZR is deficient in 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD3B2). The resulting profile of steroidogenic enzymes lends itself to the production of adrenal androgens and appears to track the progression of adrenarche. This article reviews the intra-adrenal changes of the adrenal cortex associated with adrenarche.
Adrenocortical changes; Adrenarche; Steroidogenesis
Adrenal androgens show a dual and apparently opposite effect on the growth of oestrogen-responsive breast cancer: they stimulate growth on their own, but counteract the growth-stimulatory effect of oestrogens. Focusing on the inhibitory action we have studied the effects of 5-en-androstene-3 beta,17 beta-diol (ADIOL) on the growth of oestrogen-responsive MCF-7 breast cancer cells in the presence of oestrogens (oestradiol and diethylstilboestrol), antiestrogens (tamoxifen) and antiandrogens (hydroxyflutamide). The inhibition of oestrogen-stimulated growth, attained with nanomolar concentrations of ADIOL, was not modified by increasing concentrations of diethylstilboestrol up to 100 nM. This inhibition was counteracted by antiandrogens, which were unable to block the ADIOL stimulatory effect in steroid-free medium. On the other hand, in the presence of tamoxifen ADIOL showed an additive antiproliferative activity also in steroid-free medium, rather than the usual stimulatory effect. These results suggest that ADIOL stimulates breast cancer cell growth via oestrogen receptors, but inhibits oestrogen-stimulated growth via androgen receptors.
The adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are two of the most abundant hormones in the human circulation. Furthermore, they are released in a circadian pattern and show a marked age-associated decline. Adult levels of DHEA and DHEAS are significantly higher in males than in females, but the reason for this sexual dimorphism is unclear. In the present study, we administered supplementary androgens [DHEA, testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT)] to aged male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). While this paradigm increased circulating DHEAS immediately after DHEA administration, an increase was also observed following either testosterone or DHT administration, resulting in hormonal profiles resembling levels observed in young males in terms of both amplitude and circadian pattern. This stimulatory effect was limited to DHEAS, as an increase in circulating cortisol was not observed. Taken together, these data demonstrate an influence of the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis on adrenal function in males, possibly by sensitizing the zona reticularis to the stimulating action of adrenocorticopic hormone. This represents a plausible mechanism to explain sex differences in circulating DHEA and DHEAS levels, and may have important implications in the development of hormone therapies designed for elderly men and women.
adrenal gland; aging; androgen; dehydroepiandrosterone; non-human primate; testosterone
We evaluated the comparative effects of aminoglutethimide (AG) on androgen and estrogen levels estrone ([E1], estradiol [E2], plasma dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate [DHEA-S], testosterone [T], dihydrotestosterone [DHT], delta 4-androstenedione [delta 4-A]), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin in postmenopausal patients with breast cancer randomly allocated to either AG treatment or bilateral surgical adrenalectomy as a control group. In response to either treatment, the plasma levels of E1 fell 62-75% (P less than 0.001) and urine E1 85.7-88.7% (P less than 0.001) in all study days over a 12-wk period. Similarly, the concentrations of E2 in plasma and urine fell 40-72% without statistically significant differences between the two treatment modalities. The relatively weak androgen, DHEA-S, was reduced by 92% (877.3 +/- 184.6 to 71.8 +/- 14.5 ng/ml) at 12 wk in women treated with AG, but suppressed nearly 99% (1,151 +/- 262 to 5.8 +/- 3.3 ng/ml) in adrenalectomized women. At all time points after treatment, the DHEA-S levels were significantly higher in patients receiving AG. Plasma concentrations of the potent androgens, T and DHT, were also relatively preserved during AG treatment. T levels were never significantly reduced by AG, and DHT concentrations were decreased only at the 4th wk to a maximum of 20%. delta 4-A levels fell 56% in response to this drug only on the 12th wk of therapy (basal, 0.79 +/- 0.09 ng/ml; 12 wk, 0.35 +/- 0.07 ng/ml). In marked contrast, all androgens fell significantly at each time period in response to surgical adrenalectomy, with an 81% maximum suppression of T, 73% of DHT, and 97% of delta 4-A. In response to estrogen suppression, plasma levels of FSH, LH, and prolactin did not change significantly throughout the treatment period in either therapy group. To examine possible contributions of the postmenopausal ovary to hormone levels during therapy, data from surgically castrate and spontaneously menopausal women were evaluated separately. No significant differences between the two groups were observed for E1, E2, T, DHT, DHEA-S, delta 4-A, LH, FSH, and prolactin. We conclude that equivalent and highly significant estrogen suppression occurs with either AG or surgical adrenalectomy although androgen secretion is preserved during AG treatment but not after surgical adrenalectomy. The combined effects of estrogen deprivation associated with androgen preservation might be significant in the therapeutic action of AG in hormone-responsive neoplasms.
AIM--Since most forms of Kaposi sarcoma are much more common in men than in women, the aim of this study was to examine serum concentrations of sex steroids in HIV positive men with and without Kaposi sarcoma. METHODS--Blood samples from 34 HIV positive men without Kaposi sarcoma (KS-) and 28 with Kaposi sarcoma (KS+) and from 35 HIV negative men (controls) were analysed for adrenal and gonadal steroids. Further analysis was done in subgroups classified by CD4 lymphocyte counts. RESULTS--KS+ patients had significantly higher serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and testosterone concentrations than the KS- patients, and their DHEA, DHEA sulphate, testosterone, and androstenedione values were higher than in the controls. The KS+ patients with more than 500 CD4 lymphocytes per mm3 had significantly higher serum DHEA, DHEA sulphate, and testosterone than the KS- patients with the same CD4 counts; those with 500-200 CD4 cells/mm3 had higher serum DHEA and testosterone than the equivalent KS- men; and those with < 200 CD4 cells/mm3 had raised DHEA only compared with KS- men. Both KS+ and KS- men had higher serum progesterone and oestradiol than the controls. Glucocorticoids were not significantly altered. CONCLUSIONS--The high androgen levels in KS+ patients, particularly in the early stages of the disease (> 500 CD4 cells/mm3), may affect the immune system by inducing an abnormal cytokine profile, or by increasing T8 proliferation and activation, or both. This raises the question of the relationship between androgens and Kaposi sarcoma.
Background: In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), patients demonstrate low levels of adrenal hormones.
Objective: To investigate whether increased renal clearance and daily excretion contribute to this phenomenon.
Methods: Thirty patients with RA, 32 with SLE, and 54 healthy subjects (HS) participated. Serum and urinary levels of cortisol, cortisone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP), androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulphate (DHEAS) were measured.
Results: Clearance of DHEAS and DHEA was lower in patients than in HS, and clearance of androstenedione was somewhat higher in patients than in HS, but daily excretion of this latter hormone was low. Clearance of cortisol, cortisone, and 17OHP was similar between the groups. The total molar amount per hour of excreted DHEA, DHEAS, and androstenedione was lower in patients than HS (but similar for cortisol). Serum DHEAS levels correlated with urinary DHEAS levels in HS and patients, whereby HS excreted 5–10 times more of this hormone than excreted by patients. Low serum levels of adrenal androgens and cortisol in patients as compared with HS were confirmed, and proteinuria was not associated with changes of measured renal parameters.
Conclusions: This study in patients with RA and SLE demonstrates that low serum levels of adrenal androgens and cortisol are not due to increased renal clearance and daily loss of these hormones. Decreased adrenal production or increased conversion or conjugation to downstream hormones are the most likely causes of inadequately low serum levels of adrenal hormones in RA and SLE.
The measurement of adrenal and ovarian androgens in women with PCOS has been difficult based on poor specificity and sensitivity of assays in the female range.
Women with PCOS (NIH criteria; n = 52) and control subjects with 25–35 day menstrual cycles, no evidence of hyperandrogenism and matched for BMI (n = 42) underwent morning blood sampling. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to simultaneously measure 13 steroids from a single blood sample to measure adrenal and ovarian steroids. Androgen and progesterone results were compared in the same samples using RIA.
Testosterone, androstenedione, progesterone and 17OH progesterone levels were higher when measured using RIA compared to LC-MS/MS, although the testosterone RIA demonstrated the best agreement with the LC-MS/MS using a Bland-Altman analysis. Results using LC-MS/MS demonstrated that the concentration of androgens and their precursors were higher in women with PCOS than controls [median (2.5, 97.5th %ile); 1607 (638, 3085) vs. 1143 (511, 4784) ng/dL; p = 0.03]. Women with PCOS had higher testosterone [49 (16, 125) vs. 24 (10, 59) ng/dL], androstenedione [203 (98, 476) vs. 106 (69, 223) ng/dL] and 17OH progesterone levels [80 (17, 176) vs. 44 (17, 142) ng/dL] compared to controls (all P<0.02), but no differences in serum concentrations of the adrenal steroids DHEAS, cortisol, corticosterone and their 11 deoxy precursors. Women with PCOS also had an increase in the product:precursor ratio for 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase [22% (6, 92) vs. 20% (4, 43); p = 0.009].
LC-MS/MS was superior to RIA in measuring androstenedione, progesterone and 17OH progesterone levels, while testosterone measurements were better matched in the two assays. Androgen levels were higher in women with PCOS in the absence of a difference in adrenal-predominant steroids. These data support previous findings that the ovary is an important source for the androgen excess in women with PCOS.
Objectives: To evaluate the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathoadrenal system in premenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Insulin-induced hypoglycaemia (0.1 IU/kg) was produced in 15 glucocorticoid-naive patients with long term RA with low disease activity and in 14 healthy women matched for age and body mass index. Concentrations of glucose, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, Δ4-androstenedione (ASD), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), 17α-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP), epinephrine (EPI), norepinephrine (NE), interleukin 6 (IL6), and tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) were analysed in plasma.
Results: Patients had comparable responses of glucose, cortisol, ACTH, ASD, and 17OHP to hypoglycaemia, without any signs of hypothalamic insufficiency. Patients had lower basal DHEAS than controls (3.03 (0.37) µmol/l v 5.1 (0.9) µmol/l, respectively; p<0.05); borderline lower basal DHEA levels (p = 0.067); while the response of DHEA to hypoglycaemia was comparable to that of controls. Patients with RA had lower EPI (p = 0.005) and NE (p<0.001) responses to hypoglycaemia. TNFα and IL6 were higher (p<0.05) in patients with RA (TNFα 8 (2.8) pg/ml in RA v 1.1 (0.5) pg/ml in controls and IL6 15.1 (6.7) pg/ml v 1.4 (0.7) pg/ml).
Conclusions: Lower basal DHEAS levels, without concomitant differences or changes in DHEA, ASD, 17OHP, and cortisol responses to hypoglycaemia in patients with RA, indicate an isolated decrease in adrenal androgen production. Significantly lower responses of EPI and NE to hypoglycaemia may suggest sympathoadrenal hyporeactivity in patients with RA.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) released by adrenal glands may be converted to androgens and estrogens mainly in the gonadal, adipose, mammary, hepatic and nervous tissue. DHEA is also a key neurosteroid and has antiglucocorticoid activity. DHEA has been used for the treatment of a number of diseases, including obesity; its pharmacological effects depend on large oral doses, which effect rapidly wanes in part because of its short half-life in plasma. Since steroid hormone esters circulate for longer periods, we have studied here whether the administration of DHEA oleoyl ester may extend its pharmacologic availability by keeping high circulating levels.
Tritium-labelled oleoyl-DHEA was given to Wistar male and female rats by gastric tube. The kinetics of appearance of the label in plasma was unrelated to sex; the pattern being largely coincident with the levels of DHEA-sulfate only in females, and after 2 h undistinguishable from the results obtained using labelled DHEA gavages; in the short term, practically no lipophilic DHEA label was found in plasma. After 24 h only a small fraction of the label remained in the rat organs, with a different sex-related distribution pattern coincident for oleoyl- and free- DHEA gavages. The rapid conversion of oleoyl-DHEA into circulating DHEA-sulfate was investigated using stomach, liver and intestine homogenates; which hydrolysed oleoyl-DHEA optimally near pH 8. Duodenum and ileum contained the highest esterase activities. Pure hog pancreas cholesterol-esterase broke down oleoyl-DHEA at rates similar to those of oleoyl-cholesterol. The intestinal and liver esterases were differently activated by taurocholate and showed different pH-activity patterns than cholesterol esterase, suggesting that oleoyl-DHEA can be hydrolysed by a number of esterases in the lumen (e.g. cholesterol-esterase), in the intestinal wall and the liver.
The esterase activities found may condition the pharmacological availability (and depot effect) of orally administered steroid hormone fatty acid esters such as oleoyl-DHEA. The oral administration of oleoyl-DHEA in order to extend DHEA plasma availability has not been proved effective, since the ester is rapidly hydrolysed, probably in the intestine itself, and mainly converted to DHEA-sulfate at least in females.
Men exhibit higher risk of nondiabetic renal diseases than women. This male susceptibility to renal disease may be mediated by gender-specific factors such as sex hormones.
We have undertaken a cross-sectional examination of associations between renal function (creatinine clearance estimated based on Cockcroft–Gault equation) and circulating levels of sex steroids (total testosterone, total estradiol, estrone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), and dihydrotestosterone) in 928 young (mean age: 18.5 ± 1.2 years) men.
Both androstenedione and DHEA-S showed inverse linear associations with renal function in the crude analysis of lean men (those with body mass index (BMI) less than median). However, only DHEA-S retained its association with renal function in lean subjects after adjustment—assuming no changes in other independent variables 1 s.d. increase in DHEA-S was associated with 13%-s.d. decrease in creatinine clearance (P = 0.004). Testosterone decreased across tertiles of creatinine clearance only in the crude analysis of nonlean (BMI greater than median) subjects (P < 0.001). The adjusted regression analysis that assumed no changes in other independent variables showed that 1 s.d. increase in total testosterone was associated with 11%-s.d. decrease in creatinine clearance of nonlean men (P = 0.006). Factor analysis confirmed an inverse association of renal function with both sex steroids and a different pattern of their loadings on glomerular filtration–related factors in lean (DHEA-S) and nonlean (testosterone) subjects.
Our data may suggest that androgens are inversely associated with estimated renal function in apparently healthy men without history of cardiovascular disease.