The dissociation rate of testosterone from the receptor is five-fold faster than DHT. During embryogenesis DHT has an essential role in the formation of the male external genitalia, while in the adult DHT acts as the primary androgen in the prostate and in hair follicles.
An example illustrating the significance of DHT for the development of secondary sex characteristics is congenital 5-α-reductase (5-AR) deficiency. This gene lesion can result in pseudohermaphroditism.
Unlike other androgens such as testosterone, DHT cannot be converted by the enzyme aromatase to estradiol. Therefore, DHT is frequently used in research settings to distinguish between the effects of testosterone caused by binding to the androgen receptor and those caused by testosterone's conversion to estradiol and subsequent binding to estrogen receptors.
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