Sex steroid control of gonadotropin secretion in the human male. I. Effects of testosterone administration in normal and gonadotropin-releasing hormone-deficient men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Sep;73(3):609-20. doi: 10.1210/jcem-73-3-609.


The precise sites of action of the negative feed-back effects of gonadal steroids in men remain unclear. To determine whether testosterone (T) administration can suppress gonadotropin secretion directly at the level of the pituitary, the pituitary responses to physiological doses of GnRH were assessed in six men with complete GnRH deficiency, whose pituitary-gonadal function had been normalized with long term pulsatile GnRH delivery, before and during a 4-day continuous T infusion (15 mg/day). Their responses were compared with the effects of identical T infusions on spontaneous gonadotropin secretion and the response to a 100-micrograms GnRH bolus in six normal men. Both groups were monitored with 15 h of frequent blood sampling before and during the last day of the T infusion. In the GnRH-deficient men, the first three GnRH doses were identical and were chosen to produce LH pulses with amplitudes in the midphysiological range of our normal men (i.e. a physiological dose), while the last four doses spanned 1.5 log orders (7.5, 25, 75, and 250 ng/kg). The 250 ng/kg dose was always administered last because it is known to be pharmacological. In the GnRH-deficient men, mean LH (P less than 0.02) and FSH (P less than 0.01) levels as well as LH pulse amplitude (P less than 0.05) decreased significantly during T infusion, demonstrating a direct pituitary-suppressive effect of T and/or its metabolites. Mean LH levels were suppressed to a greater extent in the normal than in the GnRH-deficient men (58 +/- 15% vs. 28 +/- 7%; P less than 0.05). In addition, LH frequency decreased significantly (P less than 0.01) during T administration in the normal men. These latter two findings suggest that T administration also suppresses hypothalamic GnRH release. T was unable to suppress gonadotropin secretion in one GnRH-deficient and one normal man. In both groups, the suppressive effect of T administration was present only in response to physiological doses of GnRH. Because the pituitary- and hypothalamus-suppressive effects of T could be mediated by its aromatization to estrogens, five GnRH-deficient and five normal men underwent identical T infusions with concomitant administration of the aromatase inhibitor testolactone (TL; 500 mg, orally, every 6 h). As an additional control, four GnRH-deficient and four normal men received TL alone. TL administration completely prevented the effect of T administration to suppress gonadotropin secretion in both the normal and GnRH-deficient men, and mean LH levels increased significantly in both the GnRH-deficient (P less than 0.01) and the normal (P less than 0.001) men who received TL alone. The increase in mean LH levels was greater (P less than 0.01) in the normal men who received TL alone than in the normal men who received T plus TL, thus revealing a direct effect of androgens in normal men. Measurements of T and estradiol production rates in three men demonstrated that TL effectively blocked aromatization.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feedback
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / deficiency*
  • Gonadotropins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Testolactone / administration & dosage
  • Testolactone / pharmacology
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Gonadotropins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Testolactone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone