Many previous studies have demonstrated effects of gonadal steroids on adrenal weight in the rat. Most of these effects are indirect, depending upon alterations in the pituitary-adrenal axis for their expression. In this study we have attempted to examine the direct effects of gonadal steroids on adrenal weight in the rat. This was done using hypophysectomized, castrated male rats receiving ACTH replacement, a model which excludes pituitary-adrenal feedback effects. Estradiol-treated rats did not differ from controls, whereas testosterone-treated rats exhibited a small but statistically significant decrease in adrenal weight. As a first step in exploring the mechanism of this androgen effect, we have identified a specific dihydrotestosterone-binding protein in the rat adrenal gland. A single class of high affinity (Kd = 0.6–2.0 × 10-8 M), saturable (28 fmol/mg cytosol protein), cytoplasmic binding sites was found using both protamine sulfate precipitation and dextran-coated charcoal assays. The specificity, sedimentation coefficient on sucrose gradient, and sensitivity to sulfhydryl reagents and heat of this dihydrotes-tosterone- binding protein are typical of the cytoplasmic androgen receptor from other androgen target tissues such as prostrate. We conclude that testosterone can decrease rat adrenal weight directly, and that the mechanism may involve a high affinity binding protein, as has been shown in other androgen-responsive systems.
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