Reproductive hormone increases in response to acute exercise in men

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CUMMING, D. C, L. A. BRUNSTING, III, G. STRICH, A. L. RIES, and R. W. REBAR. Reproductive hormone increases in response to acute exercise in men. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 369–373, 1986. The increase in serum testosterone levels generally observed with intense, short-term exercise remains unexplained since most investigators have not reported any increase in the levels of luteinizing hormone, the pituitary glycoprotein most responsible for testicular steroidogenesis. Hemoconcentration and decreased metabolic clearance have been suggested as mechanisms to explain the exercise-associated tesosterone increase. Such non-specific mechanisms should apply to other steroid hormones as well as to testosterone. To investigate whether the exercise-induced changes in other steroid hormones were similar to that of testosterone, we measured serum levels of testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone, and cortisol as well as gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, and prolactin at 5–15 min intervals throughout progressive maximal intensity exercise on a cycle ergometer. Significant increases were observed with all hormones with exercise. The increase in serum testosterone began prior to exercise, peaked at 20 min after the beginning of exercise, and fell to baseline within 10 min. The serum luteinizing hormone increase was synchronous with that of testosterone, suggesting that gonadotropin stimulation was not responsible for the testosterone increment. The increments in serum cortisol, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone, and prolactin levels were simultaneous but began 25–30 min after that of testosterone in all subjects. These findings, therefore, suggest that, contrary to previous evidence, the exercise-associated increase in serum testosterone results predominantly from a specific mechanism, presumably involving increased testicular production without gonadotropin stimulation.

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