Maximum specific 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) binding activity (Bmax) had been measured in intact confluent monolayers representing fibroblast strains derived form nongenital and genital (labium majus) skin of normal individuals and of 11 patients fulfilling the clinicogenetic criteria of complete testicular feminization (TF). Nine labium majus strains from adult females had a mean Bmax value three times greater than that of seven nongenital strains from adult females (33 vs. 11 fmol/mg cell protein). The Bmax results for 13 adult nongenital strains varied from 5.6 to 23.3 fmol/mg protein; the values for males and females had very similar means and ranges. The variation could not be correlated with the chronologic age of adult skin explant donors or with the in vitro age (mean population doubling level) of the cultures assayed. The Bmax activities of three nongenital strains from normal infants (two male, one female) did not exceed 5 fmol/mg protein. Seven of eight nongenital TF strains had Bmax values below 2 fmol/mg protein; the value for the eighth coincided with the lower limit of normal adults. The lower limit of DHT binding in normal labium majus strains was 15 fmol/mg protein. Three of five labial strains from patients with TF had Bmax values close to zero; the other two fell between 10 and 15 fmol/mg protein. It is apparant that labial skin fibroblast strains from clinically homogeneous patients with TF had highly variable degrees of DHT binding deficiency, and that they permit a more reliable diagnosis of severe and intermediate degrees of DHT binding deficiency than do strains of nongenital skin fibroblasts.
M Kaufman, C Straisfeld, L Pinsky