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Does testosterone affect pituitary glands? Does it act on all the areas of the body? Has androgen receptors?

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Pediatrician, Pulmonology
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1802 Questions
My name is XXXXX. I'd like to ask one question regarding testosterone in fetal/baby stage of life for boys.

In addition to its effects on gonad development and brain in baby boys, does testosterone, before conversion to estrogen, also affect other sites like pituitary gland?

Does it essentially act on every area of body that has androgen receptors?

Many thanks. Wishing you all the best.
Posted Fri, 11 Oct 2013 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Arun 1 hour later
Thanks for writing to XXXXXXX
Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone are believed to exert their androgenic effects by interacting with a single intracellular receptor protein in androgen target tissues. During fetal life, however, testosterone mediates the virilization of the Wolffian ducts into the epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles, whereas the urogenital sinus and external genitalia require the in situ conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone to undergo male development. The reason why the signal provided by testosterone needs to be amplified in some androgen target tissues but not in others remains an enigma.
Testosterone has been found to act on androgen receptors in brain which has been postulated in one theory for autism with high fetal testosterone levels.
It has not been proved in cause growth suppresion. , infact being anabolic hormone it helps in fetal growth. But high testosterone in mother's blood can cause growth retardation by causing placental insufficiency.
With regards to your query *IT DOESN'T ACT ON ALL ANDROGEN RECEPTORS
Hope I answered your query.
Dr Arun
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does testosterone affect pituitary glands? Does it act on all the areas of the body? Has androgen receptors? 1 hour later
Thank you Dr XXXXXXX for the answer.

I 'd like to concentrate on if theres any action from testosterone on pituitary gland, and on bone in babies/infancy.

Please consider examples below:

I understand, in adulthood, testosterone exerts negative feedback on pituitary gland (action on pituitary gland). Also, in puberty testosterone increase gh secretion (action on pituitary gland)

Is there any reason for testosterone to have action on baby boy's pituitary gland?...Even if no action there, does it mean that it didnt bind to androgen receptor, Or it binded but no action followed?

Best Regards
Answered by Dr. Arun 2 hours later
Testosterone and DHT have been found in fetal brain . Whether they bind in fetal life to the receptors is not known. Infact the negative feedback you had mentioned is unclear if it even exists in fetal brain . There are few rat studies which showed FSH levels are low in male rat fetuses which suggest a possibilty of pituitary inhibition by testosterone.
The gonadotropins are kept suppressed till mid gestation in humans and till delivery in rats by placental hormones which inhibit pituitary.

It would be an excellent research topic to start off in identifying androgen receptor in human fetus but so far tests have been limited to rats obviously.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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