Amniotic fluid testosterone: Relationship with cortisol and gestational age

Sarkar, P., Bergman, K., Fisk, N. M., O'Connor, T. G. and Glover, V. (2007) Amniotic fluid testosterone: Relationship with cortisol and gestational age. Clinical Endocrinology, 67 5: 743-747. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2007.02955.x

Author Sarkar, P.
Bergman, K.
Fisk, N. M.
O'Connor, T. G.
Glover, V.
Title Amniotic fluid testosterone: Relationship with cortisol and gestational age
Journal name Clinical Endocrinology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0300-0664
Publication date 2007-11-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2007.02955.x
Volume 67
Issue 5
Start page 743
End page 747
Total pages 5
Editor J. M. C. Connell
J. S. Bevan
W. F. Young
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 111401 Foetal Development and Medicine
111402 Obstetrics and Gynaecology
1114 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine
Formatted abstract
Introduction: Foetal exposure to testosterone is increasingly implicated in the programming of future reproductive and nonreproductive behaviour. Some outcomes associated with prenatal exposure to testosterone may be predicted from exposure to prenatal stress, suggesting a link between them. The peak serum levels of testosterone in the foetus are thought to be around 14–18 weeks’ gestation, and we explored testosterone levels at different gestations. Although best investigated in foetal plasma, this is now difficult because of the decline in frequency of foetal blood sampling; in this study, we used amniotic fluid as a biomarker to investigate foetal exposure.
Aims: To investigate the relationship between amniotic fluid testosterone, amniotic fluid cortisol, foetal gender, and gestational age.
Methods: Paired amniotic fluid and maternal plasma samples were collected from 264 pregnant women undergoing amniocentesis between 15 and 37 weeks’ gestation (median 17 weeks [119 days]). Total testosterone and cortisol in amniotic fluid, and total plasma testosterone (maternal) were measured by radioimmunoassay.
Results: Amniotic fluid testosterone levels were higher in male than in female foetuses, with a median (interquartile range) of 0·85 nmol/l (0·60 –1·17 nmol/l) and 0·28 nmol/l (0·175–0·45 nmol/l), respectively. No relationship between amniotic fluid testosterone and gestational age was detected in either sex. Amniotic fluid testosterone correlated positively with amniotic fluid cortisol in both sexes ( r = 0·30 male foetuses, r = 0·33 female foetuses, P < 0·001 for both), and remained significant in multivariate analysis.
Conclusion: Testosterone in amniotic fluid did not change with gestation in the second and third trimester, raising questions about the timing of the reported early peak in the male foetus. The positive correlation between cortisol and testosterone in amniotic fluid suggests that increased foetal exposure to cortisol may also be associated with increased exposure to testosterone.
© 2007 The Authors.

Keyword Testosterone
Prenatal stress
Amniotic fluid cortisol
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Created: Mon, 23 Mar 2009, 22:18:49 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of Faculty Of Health Sciences