Background The study aim was to evaluate the correlation of sexual dimorphism and pubertal stage with steroid metabolism in adolescents. Methods The serum levels of cholesterol, pregnenolone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and their sulfate conjugates were quantitatively profiled from serum samples of 199 adolescents (87 boys and 112 girls), aged 6 to 14 years. Results In the prepubertal stage, DHEA levels in girls were higher than those in boys; however, significantly increased DHEA levels during pubertal development in boys. Pregnenolone levels were significantly higher in girls; however, the levels of its sulfate were higher in boys. The serum levels of both cholesterol and its sulfate were higher in boys, especially in the early to mid-pubertal stages. DHEA and DHEA sulfate levels in both sexes significantly increased with pubertal development (P for trend < 0.05), while pregnenolone, cholesterol, and cholesterol sulfate in both sexes were stable. The metabolic ratios, indicating sulfotransferase activity, were significantly higher in boys, and increased with pubertal development in boys, but not in girls, while CYP11A1 activity levels increased significantly in both sexes with pubertal development. Conclusions Sexual dimorphism in key enzymes of androgen biosynthesis during pubertal changes may help elucidate the normal physiology of steroidogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical