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J Clin Invest. Mar 1974; 53(3): 819–828.
PMCID: PMC333063

Hypophyso-Gonadal Function in Humans during the First Year of Life



Total and unbound testosterone and Δ4-androstenedione have been determined in 104 cord blood samples. The same sexual steroids and pituitary gonadotropins have been measured in 46 normal male infants aged 27-348 days and 34 normal female infants aged 19-332 days.

In cord blood of female neonates mean total and unbound testosterone was 29.6±7.5 and 0.89±0.4 ng/100 ml, respectively (mean±1 SD); Δ4-androstenedione was 93±38 ng/100 ml. In male neonates mean plasma total and unbound testosterone was 38.9±10.8 and 1.12±0.4 ng/100 ml; Δ4-androstenedione was 85±27 ng/100 ml.

In female infants testosterone concentrations remained constant during the 1st yr of life with a mean concentration of 7±3 ng/100 ml. Mean unbound testosterone and Δ4-androstenedione concentrations were 0.05±0.03 and 16.7±8.3 ng/100 ml, respectively. Mean plasma levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone were 8.7±3.3 and 12.9±7.7 mU/ml.

In male infants mean plasma total testosterone concentration increased to 208±68 ng/100 ml from birth to 1-3 mo of age, decreasing thereafter to 95±53 ng/100 ml at 3-5 mo, 23.2±18 ng/100 ml at 5-7 mo, and reached prepubertal levels (6.6±4.6 ng/100 ml) at 7-12 mo. Mean unbound testosterone concentration plateaued from birth to 1-3 mo of age (1.3±0.2 ng/100 ml) decreasing to prepubertal values very rapidly. Mean Δ4-androstenedione concentration, although progressively decreasing during the 1st yr of life to 11.7±4.5 ng/100 ml, was higher than in the female at 1-3 mo of life (34±11 ng/100 ml). Mean plasma level of follicle-stimulating hormone was 6.7±2.9 mU/ml, and that of luteinizing hormone was 19.7±13.5 mU/ml, significantly higher than in the female. There was no correlation between gonadotropin and age or testosterone.

The present data demonstrate that the testes are active during the first natal period. It is tempting to correlate this phenomenon to a progressive maturation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. It is possible that the surge in testosterone occurring the first 3 mo could play a role in the future life pattern of the male human being.

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Selected References

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