Author(s): Keenan BS, Richards GE, Ponder SW, Dallas JS, Nagamani M,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate the roles of androgenic and estrogenic mechanisms in the stimulation of structural growth and plasma GH in male puberty. To resolve these two possible mechanisms, we compared the effect of two androgens in the treatment of constitutional delay in growth and adolescence: an aromatizable androgen, testosterone (T), and a nonaromatizable androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Nine adolescent males, Tanner stage 1 or 2, were studied before and during treatment with T enanthate (group A) or DHT heptanoate (group B). After 2.5 months of treatment, the height velocity (HV) was 12.6 +/- 2.8 cm/yr (n = 3) in group A and 8.9 +/- 1.7 cm/yr (n = 6) in group B, both within the range of peak HV for pubertal males. In group A, the integrated concentration of GH (ICGH) increased from 3.12 +/- 0.90 to 13.67 +/- 6.0 micrograms/L (P < 0.05), and plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (IGFI) increased from 126.7 +/- 2.5 to 350.3 +/- 20.3 micrograms/L (P < 0.01); plasma T increased from 0.8 +/- 0.5 to 33.8 +/- 11.0 nmol/L (P < 0.001), and the LH response to LHRH decreased from 27.6 +/- 10.7 to 5.9 +/- 2.5 IU/L (P = NS). In group B, ICGH decreased from 4.32 +/- 0.61 to 2.39 +/- 0.42 (P < 0.025), and IGF-I decreased from 218.3 +/- 39.2 to 184.0 +/- 15.8 (P = NS). Plasma T increased from 2.0 +/- 0.5 to 2.7 +/- 0.8 (P = NS), and the LH response to LHRH decreased from 45.7 +/- 14.5 to 10.7 +/- 5.8 (P < 0.05). To further evaluate the mechanism of the effect of DHT on plasma GH, seven male subjects with adolescent gynecomastia were treated with DHT heptanoate, and their responses were studied at 1 week and 3.5 months. ICGH decreased in conjunction with a decrease in the integrated T concentration (r = -0.77; P < 0.001) and to a slight degree with decreasing plasma estradiol (r = -0.39; P < 0.2). Plasma IGF-I did not show a significant change in the subjects with gynecomastia. Thus, the increase in GH at puberty in males appears to be due to an estrogen-dependent mechanism. The suppressive effect of DHT on GH secretion may be due to either suppression of estradiol production or a direct effect. Acceleration of HV into the peak pubertal range by DHT without an increase in plasma GH suggests that an increase in GH is not necessary for the pubertal growth spurt.
This article was published in J Clin Endocrinol Metab
and referenced in Andrology-Open Access