Intracrine androgen biosynthesis, metabolism and action revisited

Lina Schiffer, Wiebke Arlt, Karl-Heinz Storbeck

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61 Citations (Scopus)
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Androgens play an important role in metabolic homeostasis and reproductive health in both men and women. Androgen signalling is dependent on androgen receptor activation, mostly by testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone. However, the intracellular or intracrine activation of C19 androgen precursors to active androgens in peripheral target tissues of androgen action is of equal importance. Intracrine androgen synthesis is often not reflected by circulating androgens but rather by androgen metabolites and conjugates. In this review we provide an overview of human C19 steroid biosynthesis including the production of 11-oxygenated androgens, their transport in circulation and uptake into peripheral tissues. We conceptualise the mechanisms of intracrinology and review the intracrine pathways of activation and inactivation in selected human tissues. The contribution of liver and kidney as organs driving androgen inactivation and renal excretion are also highlighted. Finally, the importance of quantifying androgen metabolites and conjugates to assess intracrine androgen production is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-26
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Early online date1 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


  • androgens
  • intracrinology
  • steroid biosynthesis
  • hormone-dependent cancer
  • testosterone
  • 11-oxygenated androgens


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