Prominent sex steroid metabolism in human lymphocytes

Zhifeng Zhou, Cedric H L Shackleton, Savita Pahwa, Perrin C. White, Phyllis W. Speiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Steroid metabolism was investigated in cultured human B-lymphoblastoid cells (B-LCL), and peripheral blood T and B cells. Gene expression was examined by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction amplification (RT-PCR). Appropriate sized transcripts were detected in both cultured and fresh peripheral lymphocytes for CYP11A, CYP17, HSD11L (11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase I), HSD17B1 (17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type I) and SRD5A1 (5α-reductase I). B-LCL, but not T and B cells, expressed CYP11B. There was minimal expression of HSD3B1 and HSD3B2 (3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase I and II) in B-LCL and T cells. Transcripts for CYP19 and HSD11K were not detected. Corresponding enzymatic activity was detectable only for 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 5α-reductase, respectively producing testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone. Steroid identities were confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). One metabolite thought to be deoxycorticosterone was identified by GC/MS as 6α-hydroxypregnanolone. It was concluded that sex hormone metabolism, including androgen synthesis, occurs in lymphocytes, and may modulate immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 16 1998


  • Androgens
  • Lymphocytes
  • Steroid 17 hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
  • Steroid 5 alpha reductase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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