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Chapter: Modern Pharmacology with Clinical Applications: Androgens, Antiandrogens, and Anabolic Steroids

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Characterization of Plasma Androgens

In males, testosterone is the principal circulating androgen, and the testes are the principal source.

CHARACTERIZATION OF PLASMA ANDROGENS

 

In males, testosterone is the principal circulating andro-gen, and the testes are the principal source. Although the adrenals are capable of androgen synthesis, less than 10% of the circulating androgens in men are pro-duced in the adrenals. Testosterone is synthesized by Leydig cells of the testes at the rate of about 8 mg/24 hours, providing a plasma concentration of 0.5 to 0.6 g/dL. In females, the ovaries contribute approxi-mately one-third of the total androgens synthesized, while the adrenals contribute the rest.

 

Androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) are other mildly androgenic compounds of secondary im-portance in males and females. The gonads and the ad-renal cortex are capable of secreting androstenedione and DHEA, while DHEA-S is secreted primarily by the adrenal.

 

Concentrations of plasma testosterone and other androgens vary throughout the day in both sexes; whether such variation is simply random or fits a re-peatable diurnal pattern is a matter of debate. Com-pared with the diurnal variation seen with cortisol, plasma testosterone concentrations are reasonably con-stant. Plasma androgen concentrations also vary greatly in women through the menstrual cycle, with peak levels seen in the luteal phase.

 

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