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Am J Physiol. 1988 May;254(5 Pt 1):E658-66.

Neuroendocrine-gonadal axis in men: frequent sampling of LH, FSH, and testosterone.

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Reproductive Endocrine Unit, Vincent Memorial Research Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Previous studies of episodic hormone secretion of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in normal men have produced conflicting results due to examinations of small cohorts of subjects or to limited sampling techniques. We evaluated gonadotropin and testosterone (T) secretory patterns in 20 normal men by sampling blood at 10-min intervals for luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). T concentrations were also analyzed at 20-min intervals in 10 subjects. A previously unappreciated spectrum of gonadotropin and T secretory patterns was observed in normal men. Both mean LH concentrations and mean LH pulse amplitudes varied fourfold between individuals. LH interpulse intervals varied from 30 to 480 min (mean 119 +/- 32). Results also suggested a relative refractory period at the level of the hypothalamus or pituitary. In three subjects, a striking nighttime accentuation of LH pulsations was noted. Through use of Fourier analysis, a diurnal variation in LH was observed in the population (P less than 0.02). Mean FSH levels showed marked variation between individual subjects, with discrete pulses rarely observed. No diurnal variation in FSH secretion was noted. Serum T concentrations determined at 6-h intervals ranged from 105 to 1,316 ng/dl between subjects. When T was measured at 20-min intervals, marked intermittent declines in the T concentrations to levels well below the normal range were observed in 3 of 10 subjects. T secretion was found to lag behind LH secretion by approximately 40 min (P less than 0.02).

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