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Author Notes:

Donna Toufexis, Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, dtoufexi@uvm.edu, Phone: 802-656-3497, Fax: 802-656-8783.

We acknowledge the expert technical assistance of Kathy Chikazawa and Ariadne Legendre.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by, HD46501, MH081816, and, in part RR00165.


  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Social Dominance

Dihydrotestosterone differentially modulates the cortisol response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in male and female rhesus macaques, and restores circadian secretion of cortisol in females


Journal Title:

Brain Research


Volume 1429


, Pages 43-51

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Here we used a within-subject design to evaluate hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) activity following replacement of low and high physiological levels of testosterone (T) to adult, gonadally-suppressed, male rhesus macaques, and replacement with sex-specific low and high physiological doses of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the same adult males as well as in adult, gonadally-suppressed, female rhesus macaques. As indexes of HPA axis activation following T and DHT replacement, serum levels of cortisol (CORT) were measured before and following dexamethasone (DEX) inhibition, and corticotrophin- releasing factor (CRF) induced activation. Female monkeys were assessed for differences in response associated with dominant (DOM) and subordinate (SUB) social status. Data show that the high physiological dose of DHT significantly decreased basal CORT in both male and female monkeys irrespective of social status, but reduced CRF-stimulated CORT only in males. SUB female monkeys showed a trend towards increased CRF-stimulated CORT release under high-dose DHT replacement compared to DOM females or males given the same treatment, indicating that androgens likely have no influence on reducing HPA activation under chronic psychosocial stress in females. The normal circadian rhythm of CORT release was absent in placebo-replaced SUB and DOM females and was restored with low-dose DHT replacement. These results indicate that DHT significantly reduces CRF-stimulated CORT release only in male monkeys, and plays a role in maintaining circadian changes in CORT release in female monkeys.

Copyright information:

© 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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