FRIDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Textbooks have long listed the centers of male hormone production as the testes and adrenal glands. But those textbooks might need revising if the results of a new study, showing hormone production in the penis itself, turn out to be true.
The observation stems from analyses in both mice and human tissue, revealing that proteins key to the production of hormones such as testosterone are active in penile tissue.
"We're talking about the expression of certain enzymes that are absolutely crucial to the production of male hormones," explained study lead author Dr. Kathleen Hwang, currently an assistant professor of surgery/urology at Brown University in Providence, RI. "And what we've established is that there are receptors in penile tissue, which has never been demonstrated before."
"So while this is still work in its infancy," Hwang cautioned, "this does suggest that there are other tissues in the male genitalia tract that are actually involved in hormone production."
Hwang (who conducted her research while a fellow in the department of urology at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston) was to present the findings this week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The authors note that male hormone production has not exactly been considered a medical riddle. Researchers have long cited the adrenal glands and testes as the twin engines driving androgen (male hormone) production.
But Hwang and her team wondered whether other organs or tissues might be involved.
To find out, they first harvested testes, prostate, penile and adrenal gland tissue from two 3-month old mice, and subjected them to high-tech microscopic analyses.
Later, human prostate and penile tissue samples were also analyzed.
The results: three key proteins known to be involved in androgen product
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