Steroids other than testosterone

Some specific intermediates of the steroidogenic cascade are worth mentioning when testosterone substitution is practised. In the human, as well as in the pig, testicular pregnenolone and progesterone can also be oxidized to steroids other than testosterone, such as 16-androgens which can be further metabolised to androstenone (5a-androst-16-en-3-one) and androstenol (5a-androst-16-en-3p-or 3a-ol) in sweat glands (Weusten et al. 1987a). Although these steroids are not recognized as biologically active steroids in a classical sense, they clearly act as pheromones in pigs. Humans can also perceive these pheromones but there are less convincing data about the ultimate responses (Comfort 1971; Cowley and Brooksbank 1991). Another specific testicular metabolite derived from progesterone is 3a-hydroxy-4-pregnen-20-one, produced by immature Sertoli cells from rats. This steroid is reported to specifically suppress FSH secretion by the pituitary cells (Wiebe 1997). The biological effects of these metabolites of progesterone could be of interest since alternative receptors for these metabolites have recently been reported (see section 1.6). The formation and function of other testosterone metabolites such as 17^-oestradiol and 5a-dihydrotestosterone will be discussed later. Before describing the cascade of events regulated by luteinizing hormone (LH), more details about the steroidogenic reactions in the mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum will be given.

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