Reduced conversion of testosterone (T) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) results in defective virilization in karyotypic males. Different mutations in the 5 alpha-reductase type 2 gene cause the phenotypic variability of the disease. In this report we describe four prepubertal patients with a predominantly male phenotype who carry homozygous point mutations in the 5 alpha-reductase type 2 gene and address the specific T and DHT response to different human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulation tests. For molecular genetic analysis, DNA from peripheral blood leucocytes was studied. The coding region of the 5 alpha-reductase type 2 gene was characterized by exon-specific polymerase chain reaction amplification, non-radioactive single strand polymorphism analysis, and direct sequencing. Three different homozygous point mutations (Gly196-Ser, Arg227-Gln and Ala228-Thr) were identified in the patients. In contrast, in the DNA from 100 phenotypically normal males only two heterozygous abnormalities (Ile196-Ile, delta Met157) were characterized. For hormonal studies, T and DHT were measured in serum before and after hCG stimulation employing different protocols. HCG stimulation with 5000 IU/m2 once and prolonged stimulation with seven injections of 1500 IU hCG per single dose every other day were used.
Conclusion: While abnormal T/DHT ratios were identified with both hCG protocols in the patients, prolonged stimulation lead to higher T values and to higher T/DHT rations, and hence to a better discrimination of pathologic results.