Clinical biochemistry of dihydrotestosterone

Ann Clin Biochem. 2013 Mar;50(Pt 2):95-107. doi: 10.1258/acb.2012.012159. Epub 2013 Feb 21.


Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the most potent natural androgen in humans. There has been an increasing interest in this androgen and its role in the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics as well as its potential roles in diseases ranging from prostate and breast cancer to Alzheimer's disease. Despite the range of pathologies shown to involve DHT there is little evidence for measurement of serum DHT in the management of these diseases. In this review we describe the physiology of DHT production and action, summarize current concepts in the role of DHT in the pathogenesis of various disorders of sexual development, compare current methods for the measurement of DHT and conclude on the clinical utility of DHT measurement. The clinical indications for the measurement of DHT in serum are: investigation of 5α reductase deficiency in infants with ambiguous genitalia and palpable gonads; men with delayed puberty and/or undescended testes; and to confirm the presence of active testicular tissue. Investigation is aided by the use of human chorionic gonadotrophin stimulation. Due to paucity of published data on this procedure, it is important to follow guidelines prescribed by the laboratory performing the analysis to ensure accurate interpretation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / biosynthesis
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diagnosis
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism*
  • Disease
  • Humans
  • Physiological Phenomena


  • Androgens
  • Dihydrotestosterone