The developmental changes in plasma adrenal androgens during infancy and adrenarche are associated with changing activities of adrenal microsomal 17-hydroxylase and 17,20-desmolase

R. J. Schiebinger, B. D. Albertson, F. G. Cassorla, D. W. Bowyer, G. W. Geelhoed, G. B. Cutler, D. L. Loriaux

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102 Scopus citations

Abstract

The plasma concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate decrease during the first year of life, remain low during childhood, and then increase during adrenarche. To determine whether alterations in adrenal enzyme activity might explain the changing secretory pattern of the adrenal androgens, we measured human adrenal microsomal 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase, 17,20-desmolase, 17-hydroxylase, and 21-hydroxylase activities. Twelve adrenals from individuals aged 3 mo to 60 yr were studied. The patients were divided into 3 groups based upon the age of the patient when the adrenal glands were obtained: group 1, infants aged 3-8 mo (n = 3); group 2, preadrenarchal or early adrenarchal children aged 2-9 yr (n = 4); and group 3, adults aged 20-60 yr (n = 5). The mean activity of the 17,20-desmolase, 17-hydroxylase, and 21-hydroxylase fell by 50% and that of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase activity rose 80% from group 1 to group 2. A 4-fold increase in 17,20-desmolase (P < 0.002) and 17-hydroxylase (P < 0.001) activity and a doubling in 21-hydroxylase activity (P < 0.005) occurred between groups 2 and 3. We conclude that the decline in plasma adrenal androgens after birth appears to be associated with a rise in 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-isomerase and a fall in 17,20-desmolase and 17-hydroxylase activity. The subsequent increase in plasma adrenal androgen concentration during adrenarche is coincident with a rise in 17,20-desmolase and 17-hydroxylase activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1182
Number of pages6
JournalUnknown Journal
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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