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Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2004 May;112(5):236-40.

Applicability of the SHBG androgen sensitivity test in the differential diagnosis of 46,XY gonadal dysgenesis, true hermaphroditism, and androgen insensitivity syndrome.

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Children's Hospital of the University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.


The sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) androgen sensitivity test has been used as a simple method to assess androgen receptor function in vivo. After a short term oral administration of the anabolic-androgenic steroid stanozolol the mean nadir serum concentration of SHBG is used as a measure of androgen response. We performed this test in order to evaluate its applicability in 16 patients with intersexual genital status: eleven with 46,XY gonadal dysgenesis and three with true hermaphroditism (group I), and in two patients with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS, group II). Ten healthy adult volunteers served as controls. In the two patients with AIS (group II) we found a diminished decrease of serum SHBG to 80.1 % and 80.7 %, respectively, indicating slight residual androgen responsiveness. In eleven patients of group I who were not on hormone replacement therapy, a mean nadir level of 51.7 +/- 8.7 % was found. In the controls the mean nadir serum SHBG level was significantly higher (62.7 +/- 5.2 %), probably due to interference of endogenous androgens and contraceptive medication with the stanozolol-induced SHBG decrease. In three gonadectomised patients who were on hormone replacement therapy the initial SHBG concentration was increased (513.5 +/- 239.1 nmol/l); the mean nadir SHBG concentration of 45.6 +/- 9.8 % of the initial level indicates an increased sensitivity of the test in patients in whom the counteracting ovarian androgens are absent. Our findings confirm that under standard test conditions the SHBG androgen sensitivity test is a simple diagnostic tool for the detection of androgen receptor malfunction.

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