Abstract. Serum sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations were measured by an immunoradiometric assay, as part of a longitudinal study of puberty in girls, and were related to age. pubertal stage, age at menarche, weight, nature of the menstrual cycle and serum concentrations of sex steroids. A slow but very significant decrease was seen in SHBG from 77 nmol/l at 8–10 years of age to about 50 nmol/l after 15 years of age. Serum SHBG concentrations showed weak negative correlations with those of androstenedione and testosterone during puberty. The closest associations found between SHBG and the parameters measured were negative correlations with weight and body fat percentage in both pre-menarcheal and post-menarcheal girls, even after the effect of age was accounted for by calculating partial correlation coefficients. Girls who experienced early menarche (before 13.0 years) had lower SHBG but higher oestradiol serum concentrations at 10.0–15.9 years of age compared to girls with later menarche. In ovulatory menstrual cycles, a significant increase in SHBG was found from the early to the late part of the cycle, whereas no changes took place in anovulatory cycles. Serum concentrations of SHBG showed positive correlations with those of oestradiol and progesterone in specimens taken in the late part of the cycle.
In view of the weak relationships between serum SHBG and sex steroid concentrations, and the strong relationships between SHBG, weight and body fat percentage, factors other than steroids have to be considered in the regulation of SHBG levels during puberty.