The biological activity of testosterone often depends on the conversion of testosterone within the target cell to an androgenic or oestrogenic metabolite. The purpose of this study was to compare the relative ability of testosterone and two of its metabolites, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and oestradiol, to suppress LH secretion in castrated male ferrets. Castrated ferrets were treated with five different doses of steroid by implanting various numbers of s.c. silicone elastomer capsules packed with either testosterone, DHT or oestradiol. The lowest dose of oestradiol (0·1 mm capsule length/100 g body weight, mean estimated total release rate of 25 ng/day) significantly suppressed plasma concentrations of LH in castrated ferrets. Higher amounts of DHT (2·5 mm capsule length/100 g body weight, mean estimated total release rate of 88 ng/day) were required for a significant reduction in plasma concentrations of LH. Concentrations of LH were also significantly lowered by testosterone when administered at a 2·5 mm capsule length/100 g body weight; however, estimated total release rate was 312 ng/day from these capsules. The fact that oestradiol was more effective than DHT, and that DHT was more effective than testosterone in inhibiting LH secretion in castrated ferrets, suggests that in gonadally intact ferrets, testosterone may be converted to DHT or oestradiol within target cells that mediate steroid negative feedback on LH secretion.
J. Endocr. (1988) 117, 461–466