To quantitate changing feedback control in the GnRH-LH/FSH-testosterone axis in male puberty, we here quantitate the orderliness of hormone release patterns using the regularity (pattern-sensitive) statistic, approximate entropy (ApEn), in 46 eugonadal boys representing 6 genitally defined stages of normal puberty. ApEn is a single variable, model-free, and scale-independent barometer of coordinate signaling or integrative regulation within a coupled neuroendocrine axis. Accordingly, we quantitated ApEn of LH profiles obtained by immunofluorometric assay of sera sampled every 20 min for 24 h. LH ApEn declined remarkably between early prepuberty (genital stage I-A: mean bone age, 4.6 ± 1.6 yr; testis volume, <3 mL for at least 3 succeeding yr) and late prepuberty (genital stage I-C: bone age, 8.7 ± 1.8 yr; testis volume, <3 mL for up to 1 yr thereafter; P = 0.00019), which indicates the acquisition of more regular LH release patterns in late prepuberty. Maximal LH orderliness occurred in puberty stage II (bone age, 10.7 ± 1.0 yr; testis volume, 2.8 ± 0.4 mL). The LH secretory process was more disorderly in mid- and later puberty (Tanner stages III and IV). Transpubertal variations in testosterone ApEn manifested a similar tempo, i.e. the greatest regularity of testosterone secretion (lowest ApEn) emerged in Tanner genital stage II (P < 10-7), with less orderly patterns evident both earlier and later in sexual development. In contrast, FSH ApEn values remained invariant of pubertal status. Analysis of bihormonal coupling using the theoretically related bivariate cross-ApEn statistic disclosed maximal 2-hormone synchrony for LH and testosterone secretion in genital stage II (P = 0.031), with relative deterioration of coordinate LH and testosterone release patterns both before and after. LH and FSH release became maximally synchronous at the end of prepuberty (genital stage I-C; P = 0.029), and FSH and testosterone synchrony peaked in pubertal stage III (P = 0.037). As mean 24-h serum concentrations of LH, FSH, and testosterone rose transpubertally by 35-fold (LH), 68-fold (FSH), and 70-fold (testosterone), respectively, we infer that pubertal developmental stage per se rather than level of hormone output dictates coordinate GnRH-LH/FSH-testosterone secretion. In summary, in eugonadal boys, the regularity of 24-h LH and testosterone secretory patterns undergoes well defined pubertal stage-specific control. No sexually developmentally delimited regulation is inferable for FSH. The concept of temporally biphasic puberty-dependent variations in neurohormone secretory regularity contrasts with the unidirectional rise in daily hormone output. Accordingly, we infer that late prepuberty and early puberty (Tanner genital stages IC and II) embody a physiologically unique sexual developmental window, marked by transiently enhanced LH and testosterone feedback stability in boys. Whether analogous plasticity of hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal interactions unfolds during female adolescence is not known.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism