Androgen and estrogen treatment, alone or in combination, differentially influences bone maturation and hypothalamic mechanisms that time puberty in the male rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta).
In higher primates, the mechanisms that govern the ontogeny of gonadotropin-releasing hormone pulse generator activity and that, therefore, dictate the timing of the onset of puberty remain intriguingly elusive. Groups of three infant agonadal male monkeys were treated with sex steroids [17beta-estradiol (E(2)), testosterone (T), or dihydrotestosterone (DHT)] for the first year of life to advance bone age (BA). E(2) and T resulted in a significant advancement of BA, and a pubertal BA of 130 wk was attained at a mean chronological age of 64 and 67 wk, respectively. In contrast, DHT failed to advance BA during treatment but stimulated linear growth. All animals exhibited a pubertal resurgence in LH secretion, but the timing of this developmental event did not differ between treatment and control groups (the mean for all animals was 117.7 +/- 8.9 wk). Two of the three T-treated animals, however, displayed a pubertal LH resurgence at a remarkably young age (70 and 76 wk of age) that coincided with T withdrawal. During the period of steroid treatment, all three groups were significantly heavier than the controls. The rate of body weight gain was most rapid in the DHT-treated group. Steroid treatments also resulted in accelerated linear growth. Body weight gain and linear growth continued at the same rate as controls after withdrawal of treatment. These data indicate that attainment of a pubertal BA may be a necessary but not a sufficient factor to trigger the onset of puberty. The results not only are consistent with the view that androgen-induced skeletal maturation in males is mediated by estrogen receptor activity but also indicate that androgen receptor activity contributes to the pubertal growth spurt in males.
Fraser, MO; Arslan, M; Plant, TM
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