Circadian variation in systemic hormone levels in healthy men

B. Sjöberg, B. de la Torre, M. Hedman, G. Falkay, E. Diczfalusy

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The circadian variation in the levels of Cortisol (C), pregnenolone (Δ5P), 17-hydroxypregnenolone (17-HO-Δ5P), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA), 20 α-dihydroprogesterone (20-HO-P), 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-HO-P), androstenedione (A), testosterone (T), 5 α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) as well as of the sulphurylated forms of pregnenolone (Δ5P-S), 17-hydroxypregnenolone (17-HO-Δ5P-S), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA-S), testosterone (T-S) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT-S) was assessed, or re-assessed together with the levels of FSH and LH in peripheral blood samples collected from 12 healthy men at 3-hour intervals during 24 hours. The plasma levels of all unconjugated steroids and of Δ5P-S exhibited a significant circadian rhythm. No circadian variation was found in the levels of the other sulphurylated steroids or of FSH and LH. The relative amplitudes of the variation were: 17-HO-Δ5P: 310%, C: 290%, DHA: 210%, A: 170%, 17-HO-P: 110%, DHT: 73%, T: 65%, Δ5P-S: 59%, and 20-HO-P: 21%. The individual peak values of 17-HO-P, 20-HO-P, T and DHT were more scattered than those of C and A, or of the Δ5-steroids. A significant correlation was found between the levels of C, on the one hand, and those of Δ5P, 17-HO-Δ5P and DHA, on the other hand, and also between the levels of A and those of 17-HO-Δ5P and DHA. Furthermore, the levels of T were significantly correlated to those of 17-HO-P; however, no correlation was found between the levels of these two steroids and those of any other hormonal parameter studied. The insertion of a short catheter at 18.00 h resulted in an extra peak in C levels in 5 subjects. This was associated with a simultaneous peak in Δ5P, 17-HO-Δ5P, DHA and A levels, but not in those of 17-HO-P, T and DHT. It is concluded that in men the circadian rhythm of the major gonadal steroids is independent of the rhythm of adrenal steroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation: Official Journal of the Italian Society of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1979


  • 17- hydroxypregnenolone
  • 17-hydroxyprogesterone
  • 20 α-dihydroprogesterone
  • Circadian variation
  • FSH
  • LH
  • androstenedione
  • cortisol
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • dihydrotestosterone
  • men
  • pregnenolone
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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