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  • Author: A E van Herwaarden x
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Open access

M P Schuijt, C G J Sweep, R van der Steen, A J Olthaar, N M M L Stikkelbroeck, H A Ross and A E van Herwaarden


Increased maternal testosterone concentration during pregnancy may affect the fetus. Therefore it is clinically relevant to have a quick and reliable method to determine free testosterone levels. Current calculators for free testosterone are suspected to perform poorly during pregnancy due to suggested competition between high levels of estradiol and free (bio-active) testosterone for sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) binding. Therefore, it is claimed that reliable calculation of free testosterone concentration is not possible. However, recent evidence on SHBG-binding sites questions the estradiol effect on the testosterone-SHBG binding during pregnancy. In this study, we investigated whether the free testosterone concentration can be calculated in pregnant women.

Design and methods

Free testosterone was measured with a specially developed equilibrium dialysis method combined with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Free testosterone was also calculated with the formulas of Vermeulen et al. and Ross et al.


Total and free testosterone measured in healthy men and women were in good agreement with earlier reports. In pregnant women, total testosterone values were higher than in non-pregnant women, whereas free testosterone values were comparable. Calculated free testosterone levels in pregnant women were highly correlated, but marginally higher, compared to measured free testosterone levels.


We developed an equilibrium dialysis–LC-MS/MS method for the measurement of free testosterone in the low range of pregnant and non-pregnant women. Although during pregnancy total testosterone is increased, this is not the case for free testosterone. The free testosterone formulas perform well in pregnant women.

Open access

Manon Engels, Paul N Span, Rod T Mitchell, Joop J T M Heuvel, Monica A Marijnissen-van Zanten, Antonius E van Herwaarden, Christina A Hulsbergen-van de Kaa, Egbert Oosterwijk, Nike M Stikkelbroeck, Lee B Smith, Fred C G J Sweep and Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten

Testicular adrenal rest tumours (TARTs) are benign adrenal-like testicular tumours that frequently occur in male patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Recently, GATA transcription factors have been linked to the development of TARTs in mice. The aim of our study was to determine GATA expression in human TARTs and other steroidogenic tissues. We determined GATA expression in TARTs (n = 16), Leydig cell tumours (LCTs; n = 7), adrenal (foetal (n = 6) + adult (n = 10)) and testis (foetal (n = 13) + adult (n = 8)). We found testis-like GATA4, and adrenal-like GATA3 and GATA6 gene expressions by qPCR in human TARTs, indicating mixed testicular and adrenal characteristics of TARTs. Currently, no marker is available to discriminate TARTs from LCTs, leading to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment. GATA3 and GATA6 mRNAs exhibited excellent discriminative power (area under the curve of 0.908 and 0.816, respectively), while immunohistochemistry did not. GATA genes contain several CREB-binding sites and incubation with 0.1 mM dibutyryl cAMP for 4 h stimulated GATA3, GATA4 and GATA6 expressions in a human foetal testis cell line (hs181.tes). Incubation of adrenocortical cells (H295RA) with ACTH, however, did not induce GATA expression in vitro. Although ACTH did not dysregulate GATA expression in the only human ACTH-sensitive in vitro model available, our results do suggest that aberrant expression of GATA transcription factors in human TARTs might be involved in TART formation.