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1.  Androstenediol Complements Estrogenic Bioactivity during the Menopausal Transition 
Menopause (New York, N.y.)  2012;19(6):650-657.
Objective
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31823df577
PMCID: PMC3366061  PMID: 22415563
Androstenediol; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
2.  Menopausal Transition Stage-Specific Changes in Circulating Adrenal Androgens 
Menopause (New York, N.y.)  2012;19(6):658-663.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31823fe274
PMCID: PMC3366025  PMID: 22415570
DHEAS; androstenediol; estrogen; estrogenicity; menopause; adrenal
3.  Regulation of the Adrenal Androgen Biosynthesis 
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.09.015
PMCID: PMC2699571  PMID: 17945481
Adrenal; Androgen; Cytochrome b5; DHEA-sulfotransferase; 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
4.  Adrenal changes associated with adrenarche 
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.
doi:10.1007/s11154-008-9092-2
PMCID: PMC3712864  PMID: 18821019
Adrenocortical changes; Adrenarche; Steroidogenesis
5.  Androgens and Bone 
Steroids  2008;74(3):296-305.
Testosterone is the major gonadal sex steroid produced by the testes in men. Testosterone is also produced in smaller amounts by the ovaries in women. The adrenal glands produce the weaker androgens dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and androstenedione. These androgens collectively affect skeletal homeostasis throughout life in both men and women, particularly at puberty and during adult life. Because testosterone can be metabolized to estradiol by the aromatase enzyme, there has been controversy as to which gonadal sex steroid has the greater skeletal effect. The current evidence suggests that estradiol plays a greater role in maintenance of skeletal health than testosterone, but that androgens also have direct beneficial effects on bone. Supraphysiological levels of testosterone likely have similar effects on bone as lower levels via direct interaction with androgen receptors, as well as effects mediated by estrogen receptors after aromatization to estradiol. Whether high doses of synthetic, non-aromatizable androgens may, in fact, be detrimental to bone due to suppression of endogenous testosterone (and estrogen) levels is a potential concern that warrants further study.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2008.10.003
PMCID: PMC2679948  PMID: 18992761
6.  Circulating Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Levels in Women with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy during the Menopausal Transition 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2011;18(5):494-498.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
The MT rise in DHEAS (5-8%) occurring in the absence of ovaries is largely of adrenal origin.
doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e3181fb53fc
PMCID: PMC3123411  PMID: 21178790
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; menopause; adrenal; ovary
7.  5-En-androstene-3 beta,17 beta-diol inhibits the growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells when oestrogen receptors are blocked by oestradiol. 
British Journal of Cancer  1994;70(6):1035-1039.
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.
PMCID: PMC2033679  PMID: 7981051
8.  Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels reflect endogenous LH production and response to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) challenge in the older female macaque (Macaca fascicularis) 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2013;20(3):329-335.
Hypothesis
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/GME.0b013e3182698f80
PMCID: PMC3546135  PMID: 23435031
DHEAS; menopause; adrenal androgens; LH/hCG
9.  Lower Serum Androstenedione Levels in Pre-Rheumatoid Arthritis versus Normal Control Women: Correlations with Lower Serum Cortisol Levels 
Autoimmune Diseases  2013;2013:593493.
Serum adrenal androgens (AAs), including androstenedione (Δ4A) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), have been reported to be lower in female rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with early disease. Few data are available on hormonal status of women before the onset of clinical rheumatoid arthritis (pre-RA). A broad baseline panel of serum adrenal and sex steroids was compared in 36 female pre-RA to 144 matched cohort control (CN) subjects to determine differences in their mean values and in patterns of hormonal correlations. Study subjects having lower versus higher baseline serum cortisol levels than the total group's mean value were also analyzed separately to investigate differences in their hormonal levels and correlational patterns. In total subjects, mean (±SE) Δ4A level (nmol/L) was lower (P = 0.018) in 28 pre-RA cases (6.4 ± 0.40) versus 108 CN (7.8 ± 0.28). The significant (P = 0.013) difference was restricted to 9 pre-RA versus 53 CN subjects having lower cortisol levels (5.6 ± 0.73 versus 8.0 ± 0.42 nmol/L, resp.). In total subjects, no significant difference was found between study subjects in their bivariate correlations of the hormonal panel variables, unlike results found in the subgroups stratified by lower versus higher cortisol levels. A subgroup of pre-RA females may have relative adrenal cortical insufficiency, as reflected by lower Δ4A, especially observed among those subjects with lower cortisol levels.
doi:10.1155/2013/593493
PMCID: PMC3674651  PMID: 23762532
10.  Modulation of Higher Primate Adrenal Androgen Secretion with Estradiol or Estradiol and Progesterone Intervention 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2013;20(3):10.1097/GME.0b013e318273a070.
Background
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.
Objective
To determine if hormone replacement therapy (HT) for one year can modulate adrenal androgen production.
Method
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/GME.0b013e318273a070
PMCID: PMC3610787  PMID: 23435030
Adrenal; Steroids; Hormone Therapy; Replacement
11.  Steroid hormone levels associated with passive and active smoking 
Steroids  2011;76(7):653-659.
Context
Cigarette tobacco smoke is a potent environmental contaminant known to adversely affect health including fertility and pregnancy.
Objective
To examine the associations between second-hand cigarette tobacco-smoke exposure, or active smoking and serum concentrations of steroid hormones using tandem mass spectrometry.
Design
Healthy women (18–45 y) from the general community in the Metropolitan Washington, DC were recruited at the follicular stage of their menstrual cycle. Participants were assigned to one of three study groups: active smokers (N= 107), passive smokers (N= 86), or non-smokers (N= 100). Classifications were based on a combination of self-reporting and serum cotinine concentrations.
Methods
Serum androgens, estrogens, progestins, androstenedione, aldosterone, cortisol, corticosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), 11-deoxycortisol and 25-hydroxy-vitamin D3 (25-OHVitD3) and cotinine were measured by isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) (API-5000). Kruskal–Wallis tests were used to assess median differences among the three groups, with Dunn’s multiple comparison test for post hoc analysis.
Results
Serum estrone, estradiol, and estriol concentrations were lower in active and passive smokers than in non-smokers. The three study groups differed significantly in serum concentrations of 16-OHE1, aldosterone and 25-OHVitD3, as well as in the ratios of many of the steroids. Pair-wise comparison of the groups demonstrated significant differences in hormone concentrations between (i) smokers and nonsmokers for aldosterone: (ii) passive smokers and non-smokers for aldosterone, progesterone and estriol. Moreover, for smokers and passive smokers, there were no significant differences in these hormone concentrations.
Conclusions
Smoke exposure was associated with lower than normal median steroid hormone concentrations. These processes may be instrumental in explaining some adverse effects of tobacco smoke on female health and fertility.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2011.02.042
PMCID: PMC3635532  PMID: 21396948
Environmental toxicants; Cigarette tobacco smoke exposure; Mineralocorticoids; Sex hormones; Stress hormones; Tandem mass spectrometry
12.  Androgen conversion in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis synoviocytes – androstenedione and testosterone inhibit estrogen formation and favor production of more potent 5α-reduced androgens 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R938-R948.
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.
doi:10.1186/ar1769
PMCID: PMC1257423  PMID: 16207335
13.  Deletion of the Mouse P450c17 Gene Causes Early Embryonic Lethality 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(12):5383-5390.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a 19-carbon precursor of sex steroids, is abundantly produced in the human but not the mouse adrenal. However, mice produce DHEA and DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS) in the fetal brain. DHEA stimulates axonal growth from specific populations of mouse neocortical neurons in vitro, while DHEAS stimulates dendritic growth from those cells. The synthesis of DHEA and sex steroids, but not mouse glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, requires P450c17, which catalyzes both 17α-hydroxylase and 17,20-lyase activities. We hypothesized that P450c17-knockout mice would have disordered sex steroid synthesis and disordered brain DHEA production and thus provide phenotypic clues about the functions of DHEA in mouse brain development. We deleted the mouse P450c17 gene in 127/SvJ mice and obtained several lines of mice from two lines of targeted embryonic stem cells. Heterozygotes were phenotypically and reproductively normal, but in all mouse lines, P450c17−/− zygotes died by embryonic day 7, prior to gastrulation. The cause of this early lethality is unknown, as there is no known function of fetal steroids at embryonic day 7. Immunocytochemistry identified P450c17 in embryonic endoderm in E7 wild-type and heterozygous embryos, but its function in these cells is unknown. Enzyme assays of wild-type embryos showed a rapid rise in 17-hydroxylase activity between E6 and E7 and the presence of C17,20-lyase activity at E7. Treatment of pregnant females with subcutaneous pellets releasing DHEA or 17-OH pregnenolone at a constant rate failed to rescue P450c17−/− fetuses. Treatment of normal pregnant females with pellets releasing pregnenolone or progesterone did not cause fetal demise. These data suggest that steroid products of P450c17 have heretofore-unknown essential functions in early embryonic mouse development.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.12.5383-5390.2004
PMCID: PMC419874  PMID: 15169901
14.  DHEA supplementation in ovariectomized rats reduces impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion induced by a high-fat diet☆ 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:141-146.
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.
Highlights
•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.
doi:10.1016/j.fob.2014.01.005
PMCID: PMC3907747  PMID: 24490138
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
15.  Possible role of leptin in hypoandrogenicity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(7):809-816.
Background: Hypoandrogenicity is common in obesity and in chronic inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Adrenal androgens such as androstenedione (ASD) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulphate are low, which partly depends on the influence of TNF in chronic inflammatory diseases. Leptin is stimulated by TNF and is associated with hypoandrogenicity in non-inflammatory conditions.
Objective: To study the interrelation between serum levels of leptin and adrenal steroids in SLE and RA.
Methods: In a retrospective study, serum levels of leptin, ASD, DHEA, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP) were measured by ELISA, and serum levels of cortisol by radioimmunoassay in 30 patients with RA, 32 with SLE, and 54 healthy control subjects (HS).
Results: In SLE and RA but not HS, serum levels of ASD correlated negatively with serum levels of leptin (p<0.01) independently of prior prednisolone treatment in patients with SLE (p = 0.013) and tended to be independent of prednisolone in patients with RA (p = 0.067). In a partial correlation analysis, this interrelation remained significant after controlling for daily prednisolone dose in both patient groups. In both patient groups, serum leptin levels correlated negatively with the molar ratio of serum ASD/serum cortisol and serum ASD/serum 17OHP, and positively with the molar ratio of serum DHEA/serum ASD.
Conclusions: The negative correlation of serum leptin and ASD or, particularly, ASD/17OHP, together with its known anti-androgenic effects indicate that leptin is also involved in hypoandrogenicity in patients with SLE and RA. Leptin may be an important link between chronic inflammation and the hypoandrogenic state.
doi:10.1136/ard.2003.011619
PMCID: PMC1755074  PMID: 15194576
16.  The developmental changes in plasma adrenal androgens during infancy and adrenarche are associated with changing activities of adrenal microsomal 17-hydroxylase and 17,20-desmolase. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1981;67(4):1177-1182.
The plasma concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate decrease during the first year of life, remain low during childhood, and then increase during adrenarche. To determine whether alterations in adrenal enzyme activity might explain the changing secretory pattern of the adrenal androgens, we measured human adrenal microsomal 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase, 17,20-desmolase, 17-hydroxylase, and 21-hydroxylase activities. 12 adrenals from individuals aged 3 mo to 60 yr were studied. The patients were divided into three groups based upon the age of the patient when the adrenal glands were obtained: group 1, infants aged 3--8 mo (n = 3); group 2, preadrenarchal or early adrenarchal children aged 2--9 yr (n = 4); and group 3, adults aged 20--60 yr (n = 5). The mean activity of the 17,20-desmolase, 17-hydroxylase, and 21-hydroxylase fell by 50% and that of 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase activity rose 80% from group 1 to 2. A fourfold increase in 17,20-desmolase (P less than 0.002) and 17-hydroxylase (P less than 0.001) activity and a doubling in 21-hydroxylase activity (P less than 0.005) occurred between groups 2 and 3. We conclude that the decline in plasma adrenal androgens after birth appears to be associated with a rise in 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase and a fall in 17,20-desmolase and 17-hydroxylase activity. The subsequent increase in plasma adrenal androgen concentration during adrenarche is coincident with a rise in 17,20-desmolase and 17-hydroxylase activity.
PMCID: PMC370679  PMID: 6970754
17.  Inverse Associations Between Androgens and Renal Function: The Young Men Cardiovascular Association (YMCA) Study 
American journal of hypertension  2008;22(1):100-105.
BACKGROUND
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.
METHODS
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.
RESULTS
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.
CONCLUSIONS
Our data may suggest that androgens are inversely associated with estimated renal function in apparently healthy men without history of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1038/ajh.2008.307
PMCID: PMC2808108  PMID: 19096379
18.  Depressed levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate in postmenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis but no relation with axial bone density. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1993;52(3):211-214.
The sex hormones dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), oestradiol, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were measured in 185 postmenopausal women (aged 45-65 years) with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and related to assessments of bone mineral density at the spine and proximal femur. Compared with 518 postmenopausal control women (aged 45-65 years), DHEAS levels were below normal in the 120 patients with RA who had never taken corticosteroids and levels were further depressed in 39 patients currently using steroids. Twenty six patients who had completed steroid treatment also had lower DHEAS levels, suggesting a delayed recovery of adrenal androgen secretion. Oestradiol and SHBG levels were similar in all groups. There was no correlation between sex hormones and disease activity. Oestradiol correlated with bone mineral density at all sites. Although oestradiol correlated with DHEAS, there was no relation between DHEAS and bone mineral density. The cause of below normal levels of DHEAS in RA is unclear, whether a consequence of chronic illness, immune dysfunction, or a defect of adrenal androgen synthesis.
PMCID: PMC1005019  PMID: 8484674
19.  Hyposecretion of the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and its relation to clinical variables in inflammatory arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2001;3(3):183-188.
Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal underactivity has been reported in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This phenomenon has implications with regard to the pathogenesis and treatment of the disease. The present study was designed to evaluate the secretion of the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and its relation to clinical variables in RA, spondyloarthropathy (Spa), and undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis (UIA). Eighty-seven patients (38 with RA, 29 with Spa, and 20 with UIA) were studied, of whom 54 were women. Only 12 patients (14%) had taken glucocorticoids previously. Age-matched, healthy women (134) and men (149) served as controls. Fasting blood samples were taken for determination of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), serum DHEAS and insulin, and plasma glucose. Insulin resistance was estimated by the homeostasis-model assessment (HOMAIR). DHEAS concentrations were significantly decreased in both women and men with inflammatory arthritis (IA) (P < 0.001). In 24 patients (28%), DHEAS levels were below the lower extreme ranges found for controls. Multiple intergroup comparisons revealed similarly decreased concentrations in each disease subset in both women and men. After the ESR, previous glucocorticoid usage, current treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, duration of disease and HOMAIR were controlled for, the differences in DHEAS levels between patients and controls were markedly attenuated in women (P = 0.050) and were no longer present in men (P = 0.133). We concluded that low DHEAS concentrations are commonly encountered in IA and, in women, this may not be fully explainable by disease-related parameters. The role of hypoadrenalism in the pathophysiology of IA deserves further elucidation. DHEA replacement may be indicated in many patients with IA, even in those not taking glucocorticoids.
PMCID: PMC30711  PMID: 11299059
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; inflammatory arthritis
20.  Molecular Pathways: Inhibiting steroid biosynthesis in prostate cancer 
A significant proportion of castration-resistant prostate cancers (CRPC) remain driven by ligand activation of the androgen receptor. Although the testes are the primary source of testosterone, testosterone can also be produced from peripheral conversion of adrenal sex hormone precursors dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione (AD) in the prostate and other tissues. CYP17A1 catalyzes two essential reactions in the production of DHEA and androstenedione: the hydroxylation (hydroxylase activity) and the subsequent cleavage of the C17-20 side-chain (lyase activity). Potent and selective inhibition of CYP17A1 by abiraterone depletes residual non-gonadal androgens and is an effective treatment for CRPC. Elucidation of the mechanisms that underlie resistance to abiraterone will inform on the development of novel therapeutic strategies post abiraterone. Preclinical evidence that androgen biosynthesis in prostate cancer cells does not necessarily follow a single dominant pathway and residual androgens or alternative ligands (including administered glucocorticoids) can reactivate androgen receptor signaling supports co-targeting of more than one enzyme involved in steroidogenesis and combining a CYP17A1 inhibitor with an anti-androgen. Furthermore, given the drawbacks of 17α-hydroxylase inhibition, there is considerable interest in developing new CYP17A1 inhibitors that more specifically inhibit lyase activity and are therefore less likely to require glucocorticoid co-administration.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-0931
PMCID: PMC3736095  PMID: 23470964
abiraterone acetate; 5α-androstanedione; backdoor pathway; prostate cancer
21.  Differences in androgens of HIV positive patients with and without Kaposi sarcoma. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1995;48(6):513-518.
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.
PMCID: PMC502679  PMID: 7665693
22.  Pregnancy weight gain is not associated with maternal or mixed umbilical cord estrogen and androgen concentrations 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2008;20(2):263-267.
The association of maternal weight gain with serum hormone concentrations was explored in 75 women who had healthy, singleton pregnancies. Estradiol, estriol, estrone, androstenedione, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate concentrations were measured both in maternal and mixed umbilical cord serum to assess hormone levels in both the maternal and fetal circulation at delivery. Our data show no association of maternal or cord steroid hormone concentrations with pregnancy weight gain. Increased exposure to steroid hormones, especially estrogens, during pregnancy has been hypothesized to play a role in subsequent breast cancer risk for both mother and female offspring. Our results are not consistent with an effect of pregnancy weight gain being mediated by this pathway as reflected by hormone concentrations at the end of pregnancy.
doi:10.1007/s10552-008-9235-5
PMCID: PMC2631613  PMID: 18830676
Pregnancy; breast cancer; estrogens; androgens
23.  Inhibition of androstenediol-dependent LNCaP tumour growth by 17α-ethynyl-5α-androstane-3α, 17β-diol (HE3235) 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;100(7):1068-1072.
Androst-5-ene-3β, 17β-diol (AED) is an adrenal hormone that has been reported to sustain prostate cancer growth after androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). LNCaP cells express a mutated androgen receptor that confers the ability to respond not only to androgen but also to oestrogen and adrenal hormones such as AED, and thus provide a cell line useful for identifying compounds capable of inhibiting AED-stimulated cell growth. We sought to determine whether structurally related steroids could inhibit AED-stimulated LNCaP cell growth in vitro and tumour growth in vivo. We report here the identification of a novel androstane steroid, HE3235 (17α-ethynyl-5α-androstan-3α, 17β-diol), with significant inhibitory activity for AED-stimulated LNCaP proliferation. This inhibitory activity is accompanied by an increase in the number of apoptotic cells. Animal studies have confirmed the cytoreductive activity of HE3235 on LNCaP tumours. The results suggest that this compound may be of clinical use in castration-resistant prostate cancer.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604987
PMCID: PMC2669987  PMID: 19337256
prostate cancer; LNcaP; apoptosis
24.  The combined influence of multiple sex and growth hormones on risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: a nested case-control study 
Introduction
Sex and growth hormones are positively associated with postmenopausal breast cancer risk. However, few studies have evaluated the influence of multiple hormones simultaneously.
Methods
We considered the roles of estrone, estradiol, estrone sulfate, testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate and prolactin and, secondarily, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and c-peptide in postmenopausal breast cancer risk among 265 cases and 541 controls in the prospective Nurses' Health Study. We created several hormone scores, including ranking women by the number of hormones above the age- and batch-adjusted geometric mean and weighting hormone values by their individual associations with breast cancer risk.
Results
Women in the top versus bottom quintile of individual estrogen or androgen levels had approximately a doubling of postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Having seven or eight compared to zero hormones above the geometric mean level was associated with total (RR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.3 to 5.7, P trend < 0.001) and estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (RR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.3 to 9.4, P trend < 0.001) breast cancer risk. When comparing the top versus bottom quintiles of the score weighted by individual hormone associations, the RR for total breast cancer was 3.0 (95% CI = 1.8 to 5.0, P trend < 0.001) and the RR for ER-positive disease was 3.9 (95% CI = 2.0 to 7.5, P trend < 0.001). The risk further increased when IGF-1 and c-peptide were included in the scores. The results did not change with adjustment for body mass index.
Conclusions
Overall, the results of our study suggest that multiple hormones with high circulating levels substantially increase the risk of breast cancer, particularly ER-positive disease. Additional research should consider the potential impact of developing risk prediction scores that incorporate multiple hormones.
doi:10.1186/bcr3040
PMCID: PMC3262212  PMID: 22017816
25.  Androgens in Women with Anorexia Nervosa and Normal-Weight Women with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea 
Context
Anorexia nervosa and normal-weight hypothalamic amenorrhea are characterized by hypogonadism and hypercortisolemia. However, it is not known whether these endocrine abnormalities result in reductions in adrenal and/or ovarian androgens or androgen precursors in such women, nor is it known whether relative androgen deficiency contributes to abnormalities in bone density and body composition in this population.
Objective
Our objective was to determine whether endogenous androgen and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels: 1) are reduced in women with anorexia nervosa and normal-weight hypothalamic amenorrhea, 2) are reduced further by oral contraceptives in women with anorexia nervosa, and 3) are predictors of weight, body composition, or bone density in such women.
Design and Setting
We conducted a cross-sectional study at a general clinical research center.
Study Participants
A total of 217 women were studied: 137 women with anorexia nervosa not receiving oral contraceptives, 32 women with anorexia nervosa receiving oral contraceptives, 21 normal-weight women with hypothalamic amenorrhea, and 27 healthy eumenorrheic controls.
Main Outcome Measures
Testosterone, free testosterone, DHEAS, bone density, fat-free mass, and fat mass were assessed.
Results
Endogenous total and free testosterone, but not DHEAS, were lower in women with anorexia nervosa than in controls. More marked reductions in both free testosterone and DHEAS were observed in women with anorexia nervosa receiving oral contraceptives. In contrast, normal-weight women with hypothalamic amenorrhea had normal androgen and DHEAS levels. Lower free testosterone, total testosterone, and DHEAS levels predicted lower bone density at most skeletal sites measured, and free testosterone was positively associated with fat-free mass.
Conclusions
Androgen levels are low, appear to be even further reduced by oral contraceptive use, and are predictors of bone density and fat-free mass in women with anorexia nervosa. Interventional studies are needed to confirm these findings and determine whether oral contraceptive use, mediated by reductions in endogenous androgen levels, is deleterious to skeletal health in such women.
doi:10.1210/jc.2006-2501
PMCID: PMC3206093  PMID: 17284620

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