Adrenal androgen production in catarrhine primates and the evolution of adrenarche.

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Bernstein, Robin M; Sterner, Kirstin N; Wildman, Derek E
Year of Publication: 2012
Journal: Am J Phys Anthropol
Volume: 147
Issue: 3
Pagination: 389-400
Date Published: 2012 Mar
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1096-8644
Keywords: Adrenarche, Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Binding Sites, Catarrhini, Conserved Sequence, Dehydroepiandrosterone, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Female, Gene Duplication, Humans, Male, Metabolic Networks and Pathways, Phylogeny, Progesterone Reductase, Steroid Hydroxylases

Adrenarche is a developmental event involving differentiation of the adrenal gland and production of adrenal androgens, and has been hypothesized to play a role in the extension of the preadolescent phase of human ontogeny. It remains unclear whether any nonhuman primate species shows a similar suite of endocrine, biochemical, and morphological changes as are encompassed by human adrenarche. Here, we report serum concentrations of the adrenal androgens dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) measured in 698 cross-sectional and mixed longitudinal serum samples from catarrhine primates ranging from 0.6 to 47 years of age. DHEAS in Pan is most similar to that of humans in both age-related pattern and absolute levels, and a transient early increase appears to be present in Gorilla. DHEA levels are highest in Cercocebus, Cercopithecus, and Macaca. We also tested for evidence of adaptive evolution in six genes that code for proteins involved in DHEA/S synthesis. Our genetic analyses demonstrate the protein-coding regions of these genes are highly conserved among sampled primates. We describe a tandem gene duplication event probably mediated by a retrotransposon that resulted in two 3-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/Delta 5-Delta 4 genes (HSD3B1 and HSD3B2) with tissue specific functions in catarrhines. In humans, HSD3B2 is expressed primarily in the adrenals, ovary, and testis, while HSD3B1 is expressed in the placenta. Taken together, our findings suggest that while adrenarche has been suggested to be unique to hominoids, the evolutionary roots for this developmental stage are more ancient.

DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22001
Alternate Journal: Am. J. Phys. Anthropol.
Related MOCA Topics: