Prenatal testosterone exposure leads to hypertension that is gonadal hormone-dependent in adult rat male and female offspring

Vijayakumar Chinnathambi, Meena Balakrishnan, Chandrasekhar Yallampalli, Kunju Sathishkumar

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    Prenatal testosterone exposure impacts postnatal reproductive and endocrine function, leading to alterations in sex steroid levels. Because gonadal steroids are key regulators of cardiovascular function, it is possible that alteration in sex steroid hormones may contribute to development of hypertension in prenatally testosterone-exposed adults. The objectives of this study were to evaluate whether prenatal testosterone exposure leads to development of hypertension in adult males and females and to assess the influence of gonadal hormones on arterial pressure in these animals. Offspring of pregnant rats treated with testosterone propionate or its vehicle (controls) were examined. Subsets of male and female offspring were gonadectomized at 7 wk of age, and some offspring from age 7 to 24 wk received hormone replacement, while others did not. Testosterone exposure during prenatal life significantly increased arterial pressure in both male and female adult offspring; however, the effect was greater in males. Prenatal androgen-exposed males and females had more circulating testosterone during adult life, with no change in estradiol levels. Gonadectomy prevented hyperandrogenism and also reversed hypertension in these rats. Testosterone replacement in orchiectomized males restored hypertension, while estradiol replacement in ovariectomized females was without effect. Steroidal changes were associated with defective expression of gonadal steroidogenic genes, with Star, Sf1, and Hsd17b1 upregulation in testes. In ovaries, Star and Cyp11a1 genes were upregulated, while Cyp19 was downregulated. This study showed that prenatal testosterone exposure led to development of gonad-dependent hypertension during adult life. Defective steroidogenesis may contribute in part to the observed steroidal changes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number137
    JournalBiology of Reproduction
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - May 1 2012



    • Gonadectomy
    • Hypertension
    • Prenatal testosterone
    • Sex steroids
    • Steroidogenesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cell Biology

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