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Relationship: 1935


A descriptive phrase which clearly defines the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream, and which is downstream). More help

Decrease, DHT level leads to Decrease, AR activation

Upstream event
The causing Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help
Downstream event
The responding Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes.Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Inhibition of 17α-hydrolase/C 10,20-lyase (Cyp17A1) activity leads to birth reproductive defects (cryptorchidism) in male (mammals) adjacent High High Evgeniia Kazymova (send email) Open for citation & comment
Decreased testosterone synthesis leading to short anogenital distance (AGD) in male (mammalian) offspring adjacent High Moderate Cataia Ives (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite Under Development
5α-reductase inhibition leading to short anogenital distance (AGD) in male (mammalian) offspring adjacent Allie Always (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite Under Development

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER.In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER.  More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
mammals mammals High NCBI

Sex Applicability

An indication of the the relevant sex for this KER. More help
Sex Evidence
Mixed High

Life Stage Applicability

An indication of the the relevant life stage(s) for this KER.  More help
Term Evidence
During development and at adulthood High

Key Event Relationship Description

Provides a concise overview of the information given below as well as addressing details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves. More help

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a primary ligand for the Androgen receptor (AR), a nuclear receptor and transcription factor. DHT is an endogenous sex hormone that is synthesized from e.g. testosterone by the enzyme 5α-reductase in different tissues and organs (Davey & Grossmann, 2016; Marks, 2004). In the absence of ligand (e.g. DHT) the AR is localized in the cytoplasm in complex with molecular chaperones. Upon ligand binding, AR is activated, translocated into the nucleus, and dimerizes to carry out its ‘genomic function’ (Davey & Grossmann, 2016). Hence, AR transcriptional function is directly dependent on the presence of ligands, with DHT being a more potent AR activator than testosterone (Grino et al, 1990). Reduced levels of DHT may thus lead to reduced AR activation. Besides its genomic actions, the AR can also mediate rapid, non-genomic second messenger signaling (Davey and Grossmann, 2016). Decreased DHT levels that lead to reduced AR activation can thus entail downstream effects on both genomic and non-genomic signaling.

Evidence Collection Strategy

Include a description of the approach for identification and assembly of the evidence base for the KER. For evidence identification, include, for example, a description of the sources and dates of information consulted including expert knowledge, databases searched and associated search terms/strings.  Include also a description of study screening criteria and methodology, study quality assessment considerations, the data extraction strategy and links to any repositories/databases of relevant references.Tabular summaries and links to relevant supporting documentation are encouraged, wherever possible. More help

This KER is considered canonical knowledge and supporting literature was mainly sourced from key review articles from the open literature.

Evidence Supporting this KER

Addresses the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP setting the stage for overall assessment of the AOP. More help
Biological Plausibility
Addresses the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream.  This field can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured.   More help

The biological plausibility of KER1935 is considered high.

The activation of AR is dependent on binding of ligands (though a few cases of ligand-independent AR activation has been shown, see uncertainties and inconsistencies), primarily testosterone and DHT in mammals (Davey and Grossmann, 2016; Schuppe et al., 2020). Without ligand activation, the AR will remain in the cytoplasm associated with heat-shock and other chaperones and not be able to carry out its canonical (‘genomic’) function. Upon androgen binding, the AR undergoes a conformational change, chaperones dissociate, and a nuclear localization signal is exposed. The androgen/AR complex can now translocate to the nucleus, dimerize and bind AR response elements to regulate target gene expression (Davey and Grossmann, 2016; Eder et al., 2001). AR transcriptional activity and specificity is regulated by co-activators and co-repressors in a cell-specific manner (Heinlein and Chang, 2002).

The requirement for androgens binding to the AR for transcriptional activity has been extensively studied and proven and is generally considered textbook knowledge. The OECD test guideline no. 458 uses DHT as the reference chemical for testing androgen receptor activation in vitro (OECD, 2020). In the absence of DHT during development caused by 5α-reductase deficiency (i.e. still in the presence of testosterone) male fetuses fail to masculinize properly. This is evidenced by, for instance, individuals with congenital 5α-reductase deficiency conditions (Costa et al., 2012); conditions not limited to humans (Robitaille and Langlois, 2020), testifying to the importance of specifically DHT for AR activation and subsequent masculinization of certain reproductive tissues.

Binding of testosterone or DHT has differential effects in different tissues. E.g. in the developing mammalian male; testosterone is required for development of the internal sex organs (epididymis, vas deferens and the seminal vesicles), whereas DHT is crucial for development of the external sex organs (Keller et al., 1996; Robitaille and Langlois, 2020).

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
Addresses inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship including the identification of experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. More help

Ligand-independent actions of the AR have been identified. To what extent and of which biological consequences is not well defined (Bennesch and Picard, 2015).

It should be noted, that in tissues, that are not DHT-dependent but rather respond to T, a decrease in DHT level may not influence AR activation significantly in that specific tissue.

Known modulating factors

This table captures specific information on the MF, its properties, how it affects the KER and respective references.1.) What is the modulating factor? Name the factor for which solid evidence exists that it influences this KER. Examples: age, sex, genotype, diet 2.) Details of this modulating factor. Specify which features of this MF are relevant for this KER. Examples: a specific age range or a specific biological age (defined by...); a specific gene mutation or variant, a specific nutrient (deficit or surplus); a sex-specific homone; a certain threshold value (e.g. serum levels of a chemical above...) 3.) Description of how this modulating factor affects this KER. Describe the provable modification of the KER (also quantitatively, if known). Examples: increase or decrease of the magnitude of effect (by a factor of...); change of the time-course of the effect (onset delay by...); alteration of the probability of the effect; increase or decrease of the sensitivity of the downstream effect (by a factor of...) 4.) Provision of supporting scientific evidence for an effect of this MF on this KER. Give a list of references.  More help
Modulating Factor (MF) MF Specification Effect(s) on the KER Reference(s)
Age AR expression changes with aging Tissue-specific alterations in AR activity with aging (Supakar et al., 1993; Wu et al., 2009)
Genotype Number of CAG repeats in the first exon of AR Decreased AR activation with increased number of CAGs (Chamberlain et al., 1994; Tut et al., 1997)
Androgen deficiency syndrome Low circulating testosterone levels due to primary (testicular) or secondary (pituitary-hypothalamic) hypogonadism Reduced levels of circulating testosterone, precurser of DHT (Bhasin et al., 2010)
Castration Removal of testicles Reduced levels of circulating testosterone, precurser of DHT (Krotkiewski et al., 1980)
Response-response Relationship
Provides sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs.  More help

There is a positive dose-response relationship between increasing concentrations of DHT and AR activation (Dalton et al., 1998; OECD, 2020). However, there is not enough data, or overview of the data, to define a quantitative linkage in vivo, and such a relationship will differ between biological systems (species, tissue, cell type).

Information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). More help

Upon DHT binding to the AR, a conformational change that brings the amino (N) and carboxy (C) termini into close proximity occurs with a t1/2 of approximately 3.5 minutes, around 6 minutes later the AR dimerizes as shown in transfected HeLa cells (Schaufele et al., 2005). Addition of 5 nM DHT to the culture medium of ‘AR-resistant’ transfected prostatic cancer cells resulted in a rapid (from 15 minutes, maximal at 30 minutes) nuclear translocation of the AR with minimal residual cytosolic expression (Nightingale et al., 2003). AR and promoter interactions occur within 15 minutes of ligand binding, and RNA polymerase II and coactivator recruitment are then proposed to occur transiently with cycles of approximately 90 minutes (Kang et al., 2002).

Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits. More help

Androgens have been shown to upregulate and downregulate AR expression as well as 5α-reductase expression, but for 5α-reductase, each isoform in each tissue is differently regulated by androgens and can display sexual dimorphism (Lee and Chang, 2003; Robitaille and Langlois, 2020). The quantitative impact of such adaptive expression changes is unknown.

Domain of Applicability

A free-text section of the KER description that the developers can use to explain their rationale for the taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability structured terms. More help

Taxonomic applicability

KER1935 is assessed applicable to mammals, as DHT and AR activation are known to be related in mammals. It is, however, acknowledged that this KER most likely has a much broader domain of applicability extending to non-mammalian vertebrates. AOP developers are encouraged to add additional relevant knowledge to expand on the applicability to also include other vertebrates.

Sex applicability

KER1935 is assessed applicable to both sexes, as DHT activates AR in both males and females.

Life-stage applicability

KER1935 is considered applicable to developmental and adult life stages, as DHT-mediated AR activation is relevant from the AR is expressed.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description. More help

Aggarwal, S., Thareja, S., Verma, A., Bhardwaj, T.R., Kumar, M., 2010. An overview on 5α-reductase inhibitors. Steroids 75, 109–153.

Bennesch, M.A., Picard, D., 2015. Minireview: Tipping the Balance: Ligand-Independent Activation of Steroid Receptors. Mol. Endocrinol. 29, 349–363.

Bhasin, S., Cunningham, G.R., Hayes, F.J., Matsumoto, A.M., Snyder, P.J., Swerdloff, R.S., Montori, V.M., 2010. Testosterone Therapy in Men with Androgen Deficiency Syndromes: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 95, 2536–2559.

Bologna, M., Muzi, P., Biordi, L., Festuccia, C., Vicentini, C., 1995. Finasteride dose-dependently reduces the proliferation rate of the LnCap human prostatic cancer cell line in vitro. Urology 45, 282–290.

Bowman, C.J., Barlow, N.J., Turner, K.J., Wallace, D.G., Foster, P.M.D., 2003. Effects of in Utero Exposure to Finasteride on Androgen-Dependent Reproductive Development in the Male Rat. Toxicol. Sci. 74, 393–406.

Chamberlain, N.L., Driver, E.D., Miesfeld, R.L., 1994. The length and location of CAG trinucleotide repeats in the androgen receptor N-terminal domain affect transactivation function. Nucleic Acids Res. 22, 3181.

Costa, E.F., Domenice, S., Sircili, M., Inacio, M., Mendonca, B., 2012. DSD due to 5α-reductase 2 deficiency - From diagnosis to long term outcome. Semin. Reprod. Med. 30, 427–431.

Dalton, J.T., Mukherjee, A., Zhu, Z., Kirkovsky, L., Miller, D.D., 1998. Discovery of nonsteroidal androgens. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 244, 1–4.

Davey, R.A., Grossmann, M., 2016. Androgen Receptor Structure, Function and Biology: From Bench to Bedside. Clin. Biochem. Rev. 37, 3–15.

Eder, I.E., Culig, Z., Putz, T., Nessler-Menardi, C., Bartsch, G., Klocker, H., 2001. Molecular Biology of the Androgen Receptor: From Molecular Understanding to the Clinic. Eur. Urol. 40, 241–251.

Grino, P.B., Griffin, J.E., Wilson, J.D., 1990. Testosterone at High Concentrations Interacts with the Human Androgen Receptor Similarly to Dihydrotestosterone. Endocrinology 126, 1165–1172.

Heinlein, C.A., Chang, C., 2002. Androgen Receptor (AR) Coregulators: An Overview. Endocr. Rev. 23, 175–200.

Huggins, C., Hodges, C. V., 1941. Studies on prostatic cancer: I. The effect of castration, of estrogen and of androgen injection on serum phosphatases in metastatic carcinoma of the prostate. Cancer Res. 1, 293–297.

Kang, Z., Pirskanen, A., Jänne, O.A., Palvimo, J.J., 2002. Involvement of proteasome in the dynamic assembly of the androgen receptor transcription complex. J. Biol. Chem. 277, 48366–48371.

Keller, E.T., Ershler, W.B., Chang, C., 1996. The androgen receptor: a mediator of diverse responses. Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 1, 59–71.

Krotkiewski, M., Kral, J.G., Karlsson, J., 1980. Effects of castration and testosterone substitution on body composition and muscle metabolism in rats. Acta Physiol. Scand. 109, 233–237.

Lee, D.K., Chang, C., 2003. Expression and Degradation of Androgen Receptor: Mechanism and Clinical Implication. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 88, 4043–4054.

Marks, L.S., 2004. 5Alpha-Reductase: History and Clinical Importance. Rev. Urol. 6 Suppl 9, S11-21.

Nightingale, J., Chaudhary, K.S., Abel, P.D., Stubbs, A.P., Romanska, H.M., Mitchell, S.E., Stamp, G.W.H., Lalani, E.N., 2003. Ligand Activation of the Androgen Receptor Downregulates E-Cadherin-Mediated Cell Adhesion and Promotes Apoptosis of Prostatic Cancer Cells. Neoplasia 5, 347.

OECD, 2020. Test No. 458: Stably Transfected Human Androgen Receptor Transcriptional Activation Assay for Detection of Androgenic Agonist and Antagonist Activity of Chemicals, OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, Section 4. OECD Publishing, Paris.

Robitaille, J., Langlois, V.S., 2020. Consequences of steroid-5α-reductase deficiency and inhibition in vertebrates. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 290.

Schaufele, F., Carbonell, X., Guerbadot, M., Borngraeber, S., Chapman, M.S., Ma, A.A.K., Miner, J.N., Diamond, M.I., 2005. The structural basis of androgen receptor activation: Intramolecular and intermolecular amino-carboxy interactions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102, 9802–9807.

Schuppe, E.R., Miles, M.C., Fuxjager, M.J., 2020. Evolution of the androgen receptor: Perspectives from human health to dancing birds. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 499, 110577.

Schwartz, C.L., Christiansen, S., Vinggaard, A.M., Axelstad, M., Hass, U., Svingen, T., 2019. Anogenital distance as a toxicological or clinical marker for fetal androgen action and risk for reproductive disorders. Arch. Toxicol. 93, 253–272.

Supakar, P.C., Song, C.S., Jung, M.H., Slomczynska, M.A., Kim, J.M., Vellanoweth, R.L., Chatterjee, B., Roy, A.K., 1993. A novel regulatory element associated with age-dependent expression of the rat androgen receptor gene. J. Biol. Chem. 268, 26400–26408.

Tut, T.G., Ghadessy, F.J., Trifiro, M.A., Pinsky, L., Yong, E.L., 1997. Long Polyglutamine Tracts in the Androgen Receptor Are Associated with Reduced Trans-Activation, Impaired Sperm Production, and Male Infertility. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 82, 3777–3782.

Williams, A.J., Grulke, C.M., Edwards, J., McEachran, A.D., Mansouri, K., Baker, N.C., Patlewicz, G., Shah, I., Wambaugh, J.F., Judson, R.S., Richard, A.M., 2017. The CompTox Chemistry Dashboard: a community data resource for environmental chemistry. J. Cheminform. 9, 61.

Wu, D., Lin, G., Gore, A.C., 2009. Age-related Changes in Hypothalamic Androgen Receptor and Estrogen Receptor α in Male Rats. J. Comp. Neurol. 512, 688.