Leydig cell androgen synthesis

Lu Li, Barry R. Zirkin, Vassilios Papadopoulos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Testosterone and its metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are the main androgens driving male sexual differentiation and masculinization, and supporting spermatogenesis. They are synthesized by the Leydig cells of the testis from cholesterol transferred from intracellular stores into mitochondria; the hormone-sensitive and rate-limiting step in androgen biosynthesis. In mitochondria, cholesterol is metabolized by the cytochrome CYP11A1 into pregnenolone, which is further metabolized to androgens in the endoplasmic reticulum by the 3β-HSD, CYP17A1, and 17β-HSD3 enzymes. Testosterone is metabolized to estradiol and DHT by CYP19A1 and 5α-reductase, respectively. Deficiencies in androgen biosynthesis are relatively rare and lead to male pseudohermaphroditism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Reproduction
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780128151457
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • 17β-HSD3
  • 3β-HSD
  • 5α-reductase
  • ATAD3, cholesterol
  • CYP11A1
  • CYP17A1
  • CYP19A1
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Disorders of male sexual development
  • Leydig cells
  • STAR
  • TSPO
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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