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C. Goñez, A. Villena and G. F. Gonzales

ABSTRACT

Serum levels of adrenal androgens were measured in children of both sexes living at sea level and at high altitude using a cross-sectional design. The levels were compared in relation to age at each altitude (150 m and 3400 m above sea level), and the first significant increase in mean levels compared with values at preceding ages was assessed and defined as adrenarche.

A total of 118 boys and 95 girls aged 6–12 years living at low altitude and 95 boys and 104 girls aged 7–15 years living at high altitude, all of them attending public schools, were studied. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate and androstenedione were measured by radioimmunoassay and height and weight by standard anthropometric techniques. There were two significant increases in serum levels of adrenal androgens, the first observed in children between 6 and 8 years at sea level, and between 7 and 9 years at high altitude, and the second in children between 10 and 12 years at sea level and between 12 and 15 years at high altitude. Serum adrenal androgen levels increased earlier in children at sea level than at high altitude.

It is concluded that adrenarche occurs later at high altitude than at sea level.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 136, 517–523

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GF Gonzales, C Gonez and A Villena

The present study aimed to determine adrenopause or reduction of serum adrenal androgens with age at high altitude and at sea level. It was a cross-sectional study performed in 210 women resident at high altitude (4340 m) and 123 women living in Lima (150 m), aged 20-70 years. Fasting early morning blood samples were obtained. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulphate (DHEAS), androstenedione, testosterone and estradiol were measured by radioimmunoassay. Serum testosterone concentrations were greater in women living at high altitude than in those resident at sea level. Serum concentrations of DHEA, DHEAS and androstenedione were lower in women living at high altitude than in those living at sea level. The DHEAS/DHEA ratio was significantly greater, and the androstenedione/testosterone ratio was lower in samples from women living at high altitude. Among women older than 50 years of age, a greater decline in serum concentrations of DHEA was observed in those living at high altitude than in those living at sea level. Among women 60-70 years of age, serum concentrations of DHEA at high altitude were 46.9% of those in women of the same age living at sea level. Decay of DHEAS at sea level and at high altitude occurred from the age of 40 years. The decline was faster at high altitude than at sea level, and in women aged 60-70 years serum values of DHEAS at high altitude were 56% of those at sea level. In the same age group, serum concentrations of androstenedione among those native to high altitudes were 27.34% of the value at sea level. At sea level, serum testosterone concentrations did not change with age from 20 to 70 years. In women aged 20-39 years and 50-59 years, serum testosterone concentrations were greater at high altitude than at sea level (P<0.05). In those aged 60-70 years, the concentrations were similar in those living at sea level and at high altitude. At sea level and at high altitude, the serum testosterone/estradiol ratio increased with age (P<0.0034 and P<0.0001 respectively). This ratio increased at an earlier age among those living at high altitude (40-49 years) than among those living at sea level (50-59 years). Multivariate analysis showed that altitude (P<0.0001) and greater chronological age (P<0.001) were associated with lower serum DHEAS concentrations. DHEAS was related to chronological age (P<0.0001). Low serum androstenedione concentrations were related to living at high altitude at birth and greater chronological age (P<0.0001). In conclusion, adrenopause is attained earlier and is of greater magnitude at high altitude than at sea level.

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GF Gonzales, A Cordova, K Vega, A Chung, A Villena and C Gonez

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. This study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that Maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg Maca. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or Maca (1.5 g or 3.0 g per day). Data showed that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Multiple regression analysis showed that serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment with Maca at any of the times studied (P, not significant). In conclusion, treatment with Maca does not affect serum reproductive hormone levels.