Of mice and men: the evolving phenotype of aromatase deficiency

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Mar;17(2):55-64. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2006.01.004. Epub 2006 Feb 9.


We are rapidly becoming aware of the importance of estrogen in maintaining virtually all facets of male health. In order for estrogens to be synthesized endogenously, the enzyme responsible for their synthesis from androgens, aromatase, must be functional. The seven known men in whom aromatase is nonfunctional all have a mutation in either exon V or IX of the CYP19 gene, which encodes aromatase. Collectively, these men are reported to have undetectable estrogen; normal to high levels of testosterone and gonadotropins; tall stature with delayed skeletal maturation and epiphyseal closure; osteoporosis; impaired lipid and insulin metabolism; and impaired reproductive function. The aromatase knockout mouse presents with a phenotype that is similar in many aspects and provides a valuable tool with which to examine and manipulate the actions of estrogen. By studying the naturally occurring aromatase-deficient humans, together with studies of the aromatase-knockout mouse, we are expanding our understanding of the essential role of estrogen in male physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / physiology
  • Animals
  • Aromatase / deficiency*
  • Aromatase / physiology
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Bone Development / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Estrogens / deficiency
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Phenotype


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Aromatase