Changes in the pattern of androgen formation in vitro by the baboon fetal adrenal gland at mid- and late gestation

Biol Reprod. 1987 Dec;37(5):1192-7. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod37.5.1192.


In the present study, baboon fetal adrenal cells were obtained at mid- and late gestation and incubated for various intervals to determine simultaneously the effects of length of incubation and stage of development on the pattern of adrenal steroidogenesis. Cells were treated with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from 0 to 48 h of incubation, and the concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA), DHA-sulfate (DHAS), and androstenedione (delta 4A) were determined in the medium. The secretion of DHA and DHAS by untreated or ACTH-treated cells of midgestation increased linearly throughout the 48-h incubation period. In fetal adrenal incubates of late gestation, however, DHA and DHAS concentrations peaked at 3 h and declined thereafter, suggesting that the DHA secreted into the medium was further metabolized by this tissue. Baboon fetal adrenal cells formed similar amounts of DHAS and DHA at midgestation, but greater quantities of DHAS were formed at term. In fetal adrenal incubates of midgestation, DHA concentrations exceeded those of delta 4A by threefold, a relationship which was reversed at late gestation, probably due to the increase in the activity of 3 beta-hydroxy-steroid dehydrogenase with advancing gestation. Because the decline in DHA with time of incubation was also associated with a concomitant decrease in DHAS and no change in delta 4A, it does not appear that formation of these steroids account for the loss of DHA. We conclude that the pattern of androgen metabolism exhibited by fetal adrenal cells obtained at midgestation is different from that at term.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / embryology
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism*
  • Androstenedione / biosynthesis*
  • Androstenedione / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / biosynthesis*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / metabolism
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Gestational Age
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Papio
  • Pregnancy
  • Radioimmunoassay


  • Androstenedione
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate