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Comp Med. 2008 Aug;58(4):381-8.

Androgen resistance in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.).

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Department of Pharmacology, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL, USA.


The goal of this study was to understand the basis for high androgen levels in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.). Mass spectrometry was used to analyze serum testosterone, androstenedione, and dihydrotestosterone of male squirrel monkeys during the nonbreeding (n = 7) and breeding (n = 10) seasons. All hormone levels were elevated compared with those of humans, even during the nonbreeding season; the highest levels occurred during the breeding season. The ratio of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in squirrel monkeys is high during the breeding season compared to man. Squirrel monkeys may have high testosterone to compensate for inefficient metabolism to dihydrotestosterone. We also investigated whether squirrel monkeys have high androgens to compensate for low-activity androgen receptors (AR). The response to dihydrotestosterone in squirrel monkey cells transfected with AR and AR-responsive reporter plasmids was 4-fold, compared with 28-fold in human cells. This result was not due to overexpression of cellular FKBP51, which causes glucocorticoid and progestin resistance in squirrel monkeys, because overexpression of FKBP51 had no effect on dihydrotestosterone-stimulated reporter activity in a human fibroblast cell line. To test whether the inherently low levels of FKBP52 in squirrel monkeys contribute to androgen insensitivity, squirrel monkey cells were transfected with an AR expression plasmid, an AR-responsive reporter plasmid, and a plasmid expressing FKBP52. Expression of FKBP52 decreased the EC50 or increased the maximal response to dihydrotestosterone. Therefore, the high androgen levels in squirrel monkeys likely compensate for their relatively low 5 alpha-reductase activity during the breeding season and AR insensitivity resulting from low cellular levels of FKBP52.

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