Experimental evidence indicates that the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is operational and sexually dimorphic in the mammalian fetus and newborn. We examined the dynamics of human luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in five male and three female infants on the day of birth, after 34-41 wk of gestation. The infants were polycythemic, and blood samples were obtained every 20 min for 160 to 360 min during a therapeutic, standardized, isovolumetric, partial exchange transfusion. Serum LH was measured by an immunoradiometric assay that does not cross-react with human chorionic gonadotropin. The serum profiles of LH presented a striking sex dimorphism with elevated LH levels in male compared with female newborns. Deconvolution analysis of all male LH profiles was consistent with a high-frequency, pulsatile secretory pattern. Testosterone, measured in a pooled serum sample of each infant, was 10-fold higher in male than in female newborns. These results document pulsatile and sexually dimorphic secretion of LH in the human infant as early as the first day of postnatal life. It is possible that the augmented LH secretion in the male newborn participates in the neonatal rise of the serum testosterone concentration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health