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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Dec;301(6):E1229-35. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00200.2011. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Adrenal androgen concentrations increase during infancy in male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

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  • 1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


This study investigated adrenal androgens (AA), gonadotropins, and cortisol in castrated and gonad-intact male rhesus macaques from birth through infancy. Blood samples were collected longitudinally from castrated (n = 6; weekly, 1-40 wk) and intact (n = 4; every other week, 1-17 wk) males. Plasma concentrations of AA were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and plasma concentrations of cortisol and gonadotropins were determined by RIA. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentrations increased almost threefold (to 8 wk), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) increased more than eightfold (to 11 wk), and androstenedione doubled (to 15 wk) in five castrated infant males and declined continuously thereafter. A sixth castrated male had markedly different temporal patterns and concentrations (many times more than 2 SDs from the cohort mean) of AA and gonadotropins from first sampling (3 wk) and was excluded from analysis. Cortisol increased over 16 wk but correlated poorly with DHEAS. Luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones increased to peaks at 3 and 7 wk, respectively. Testis-intact males exhibited similar profiles, but with earlier peaks of DHEAS (5 wk) and DHEA and androstenedione (7 wk). Peak concentrations of DHEAS were lower and those of DHEA and androstenedione were higher in intact than castrated infants. Testosterone was undetectable in castrated males and >0.5 ng/ml in intact males but was not correlated with DHEA or DHEAS. These are the first data documenting a transient increase in AA secretion during infancy in an Old World primate and are consistent with the previously documented time course of zona reticularis development that accompanies increases in androgen synthetic capacity of the adrenal. The rhesus is a promising model for androgen secretion from the human adrenal cortex.

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