Dissecting human adrenal androgen production

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug;13(6):234-9. doi: 10.1016/s1043-2760(02)00609-4.


The human adrenal cortex produces aldosterone, cortisol and the so-called adrenal androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS). Within the adult adrenal, the zona glomerulosa produces aldosterone, the zona fasciculata cortisol and the zona reticularis both DHEA and DHEAS. The processes regulating aldosterone and cortisol synthesis are well defined; however, the mechanisms regulating the production of DHEA(S) remain elusive. The emphasis of this review is based on increasing evidence that cytochrome b(5), DHEA sulfotransferase and 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase play crucial roles in regulating production of DHEA(S). Insight into the mechanisms that regulate the synthesis of these key components of DHEA(S) synthesis should provide important clues to the regulation of adrenal androgen biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Androgens / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochromes b5 / metabolism
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / biosynthesis
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism


  • Androgens
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Cytochromes b5
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase
  • Sulfotransferases
  • dehydroepiandrosterone sulfotransferase