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J Clin Invest. 1974 Sep;54(3):609-18.

Human puberty. Simultaneous augmented secretion of luteinizing hormone and testosterone during sleep.


Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone (T) were measured by radioimmunoassay in nine pubertal boys and three sexually mature young men at 20-min intervals for 24 h. Plasma LH and T were also measured in one boy during a delayed sleep onset study. Polygraphic monitoring was carried out to identify precisely sleep onset. Wakefulness, and specific sleep stages. In all nine pubertal boys the plasma T concentration fluctuated and was significantly higher during normal nocturnal sleep as compared to daytime waking. This increased T secretion during sleep was temporally linked to the characteristic pubertal sleep augmentation of LH secretion. To define further the relationship of this increased T secretion to sleep, plasma LH and T were also measured in three of the pubertal boys after acute (1-day) reversal of the sleep-wake cycle. One of these boys was also studied after 3 days of sleep-wake cycle reversal. The results of these studies showed that plasma T was now augmented during the reversed daytime sleep period; the mean T concentrations during this period were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than during nocturnal waking in all four studies. Measurement of plasma LH and T in the three sexually mature young men showed episodic secretion of LH and T during both waking and sleep periods; there was no consistent significant augmentation of LH or T secretion during sleep. This study demonstrates that (a) in normal pubertal boys and sexually mature young men plasma T fluctuates episodically; (b) there is marked augmentation of T secretion during sleep in pubertal boys, which is dependent on increased LH secretion; (c) this pubertal LH-T secretory "program" is dependent on sleep, since it shifts with delayed sleep onset and reversal of the sleep-wake cycle; and (d) this demonstrable tropic effect of LH on T is evident only during puberty, since sexually mature young men fail to show any consistent relationship between LH and T secretion either awake or asleep.

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