SOS1 over-expression in genital skin fibroblasts from hirsute women: A putative role of the SOS1/RAS pathway in the pathogenesis of hirsutism

D. Minella, F. Wannenes, M. Biancolella, F. Amati, B. Testa, A. Nardone, S. Bueno, A. Fabbri, D. Lauro, G. Novelli, Costanzo Moretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hirsutism is the development of androgen-dependent terminal body hair in women in places in which terminal hair are normally not found. It is often associated with hyperandrogenemia and/or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but the existence of uncommom hirsutism forms that are not related to altered androgen plasma levels lead also to the definition of "idiopathic hirsutism". Although the pathophysiology of hirsutism has been linked to increasing 5-alpha reductase (SRD5A) activity and to an alteration of the androgen receptor (AR) transcriptional machinery, many aspects remain unclear. In particular, the relationships between androgens and local factors are poorly understood. In the present paper, we selected for a genital skin biopsy, 8 women affected with severe hirsutism (Ferriman-Gallway score >25) but with normal plasma androgen levels, with the exception of slightly higher serum 3α-diol-glucuronide levels, and 6 healthy controls and analyzed their androgen- and insulin-specific transcriptional profile using a specific custom low density microarray (AndroChip 2, GPL9164). We identified the over-expression of the Son of Sevenless-1 (SOS1) gene in all of the hirsute skin fibroblast primary cell cultures compared to control healthy women. Since SOS1 is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor that couples receptor tyrosine kinases to the RAS signaling pathway that controls cell proliferation and differentiation, we further analyzed SOS1 expression, protein level and RAS signaling activation pathway in an in vitro model (NHDF, normal human dermal fibroblast cell line). NHDF treated for 24 h with different concentrations of DHT and T showed an increase in SOS1 levels (both mRNA and protein) and also an activation of the RAS pathway. Our in vivo and in vitro data represent a novel preliminary observation that factors activating SOS1 could act as local proliferative modulators linked to the androgen pathway in the pilosebaceous unit. SOS1 over-expression may play a role in the regulation of the RAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in the skin, in the hair follicle proliferation and cell cycle, suggesting new perspectives in understanding the pathogenesis of idiopathic hirsutism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-626
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Androgen receptor
  • Fibroblasts
  • Hirsutism
  • Microarray
  • NHDF
  • RAS pathway
  • SOS1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Cancer Research


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