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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Dec;81(12):4290-5.

The effects of chronic high dose androgen or estrogen treatment on the human prostate [corrected].

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Department of Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of Sydney, Australia.

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  • J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1997 Feb;82(2):413.


Prostate development and disease are androgen dependent. However, the nature of hormonal effects on the prostate of healthy young men is not clear. We, therefore, measured prostate size in males chronically exposed to high doses of androgens (AS; habitual anabolic steroid abusers; n = 15) or estrogens (E; male to female transsexuals; n = 11) and compared the results with those in age-matched healthy eugonadal men without known prostate disorders. Prostate size was measured by planimetric ultrasound as cross-sectional areas and maximal dimensions in three orthogonal dimensions with a 7.5-megahertz B-mode sector scanner biplane in a transrectal transducer at 2.5 mm steps from the base to the apex of prostate. Total prostate volume (TPV) was reconstructed from planimetric sections, central prostate volume (CPV) was calculated by the ellipsoidal formula from the appropriate three maximum dimensions, and peripheral prostate volume was determined by the difference between TPV and CPV. Compared with age-matched controls, TPV was normal (-2%) in AS (P = 0.752) and reduced by 31% in E (P = 0.002), whereas CPV was increased by 20% in AS (P = 0.002) and reduced by 46% in E (P = 0.002), and the ratio of CPV/peripheral prostate volume was increased by 77% in AS (P < 0.001) and decreased by 33% in E (P = 0.047). Blood sex hormone-binding globulin was elevated by nearly 500% in E (P < 0.001), but was reduced by 47% in AS (P = 0.003). Prostate-specific antigen was normal (-6%) in AS (P = 0.799) and decreased by 86% in E (P = 0.002). Prostatic acid phosphatase was increased by 26% in AS (P = 0.007), but was unchanged (-28%) in E (P = 0.106). Total and free testosterone levels were reduced to castrate levels in E, whereas LH, FSH, and total testosterone levels were significantly reduced in AS. We conclude that in the human prostate of young men, CPV is more hormonally sensitive than TPV, and during high dose treatment, CPV is preferentially increased by chronic androgen treatment and decreased by chronic estrogen treatment. The reduction of TPV by estrogens was less than expected if solely attributable to inhibition of endogenous gonadotropin and testosterone secretion, suggesting that estrogens also have a positive effect on the normal human prostate. The reversibility and long term significance of androgen-induced stimulation of CPV and, in particular, its relationship to the onset and severity of benign prostatic hyperplasia remain to be clarified.

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