Testosterone is the most abundant androgen in serum. Intracellularly, testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone, the preferred ligand for androgen receptor transactivation, by the enzyme 5α-reductase. Three 5α-reductase isozymes have been discovered and they are expressed ubiquitously in human tissues. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone have different but complimentary functions. Dihydrotestosterone has 2–5 times higher binding affinity for the androgen receptor than testosterone, and 10-fold higher potency of inducing androgen receptor signaling than testosterone. The role of dihydrotestosterone was discovered after the description of 5α-reductase type 2 deficiency in 1974, where affected males have normal internal but ambiguous external genitalia. Neither BPH nor prostate cancer has been reported in these patients. Currently, two 5α-reductase inhibitors are available for clinical use. This review will discuss the important clinical trials of 5α-reductase inhibitors in the treatment of benign prostatic diseases.
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The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Azzouni, F., Mohler, J. Role of 5α-reductase inhibitors in benign prostatic diseases. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 15, 222–230 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/pcan.2012.1