Aims: The golden standard to characterize pubertal maturation is the analysis of steroid hormones in the blood. The aim of the investigation was to assess whether the analysis of salivary steroids is similarly able to characterize male pubertal development.
Methods: The investigation included 165 normal boys (mean age 12.7±2.8 years, mean body mass index 19.6±4.2 kg/m2). Pubic hair stages were stratified by Tanner and testicular volume by using the Prader orchidometer. Steroids (17-hydroxyprogesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone/dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, androstenedione, testosterone) were measured in saliva by ELISA procedures and as serum total steroids by ECLIA assay.
Results: Correlations between salivary and serum concentrations of steroids were significant independent of pubertal development. Salivary and serum steroids correlated (P<0.001) with pubertal development (pubic hair stages, testis volume). Considering all salivary steroids for binomial logistic regression analysis, testosterone correlated best with testicular volume (P<0.001) and pubic hair stages (P<0.001). Inclusion of more steroids into the analysis did not improve the predictability of pubertal development.
Conclusion: Serum and saliva steroid levels reflect pubertal maturation equally well, notably salivary testosterone can be used as a non-invasive surrogate for serum testosterone to monitor male pubertal development.