Defining adrenarche in the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), a non-human primate model for adrenal androgen secretion

A. J. Conley, B. C. Moeller, A. D. Nguyen, S. D. Stanley, T. M. Plant, D. H. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Adrenarche, defined as a prepubertal increase in adrenal androgen secretion resulting from zona reticularis (ZR) maturation, is thought to occur only in humans and some Great Apes. In the rhesus macaque, studies of circulating dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or its sulpho-conjugate (DHEAS) have failed to demonstrate a prepubertal rise typical of human adrenarche, but available data are cross-sectional and include few neonatal or early infant samples. However, ZR maturation is complete in rhesus infants by 3 months of age based on morphological and biochemical analyses. Furthermore, preliminary longitudinal studies from birth through infancy of castrated males, and intact males and females, suggests for the first time that there is a transient, prepubertal elevation of adrenal androgen in rhesus macaques. Serum DHEAS concentration increased, peaking between 6 and 8 weeks of age in castrate males, and intact males and females, then declined. These longitudinal profiles add endocrinological support to the morphological and biochemical evidence that adrenarche occurs in a narrow developmental window in infant rhesus macaques. Adrenarche in any species should be defined only after careful longitudinal hormone analysis have been conducted in stages of development that are suggested by morphological and biochemical evidence of ZR maturation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 10 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors express gratitude to Jo Corbin for technical assistance, Dr. Alice Tarantal for sharing female serum samples, Dr. Suresh Ramaswamy and the staff of the Primate Core of the Center for Research in Reproductive Physiology (Mr. Michael Cicco and Ms. Rachel Rosland) for conducting the surgical procedures and for collecting sequential plasma samples from the agonadal male monkeys, and Amber Edwards and Tammie Frost at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center for technical assistance in sampling of intact males. Partial support was provided from grants HD13254 and HD08160 (TMP).


  • Adrenal cortex
  • Adrenarche
  • Androgen
  • Castrate
  • DHEA
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
  • Human
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal sampling
  • Neonate
  • Non-human primate
  • Prepubertal
  • Rhesus
  • Zona reticularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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