Testosterone, but not IGF-1, LH, prolactin or cortisol, may serve as antler-stimulating hormone in red deer stags (Cervus elaphus)

Luděk Bartoš, Dieter Schams, George A. Bubenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The role of androgens and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in antler growth has been disputed. We predicted that the secretory of IGF-1 may be associated with an acceleration of body growth rather than with antler growth. Furthermore we anticipated a relationship between the increase of testosterone and the progress of antler growth. If IGF-1 is involved in the stimulation of antler growth, this should be more obvious in young than in mature stags. Eight two-year-old red deer stags (Cervus elaphus), and twelve adult red deer stags were blood sampled and the length of their velvet antlers was measured in one-week intervals during the period of antler growth. Concentrations of testosterone, cortisol, IGF-1, luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin were determined in plasma by enzyme immunoassay or radioimmunoassay. Antler growth per day was primarily dependent on changes in testosterone concentration per day in both groups of stags. As expected, only in two-year-old stags we detected a possible role of IGF-1 in the antler growth regulation, but that was not in agreement with previously published studies. Nevertheless, this effect was still utilized in interaction with testosterone. In addition to total antler length, only concentrations of testosterone and LH were significantly higher in adult males in comparison to two-year-old males. Our present results lead us to conclude that it is not IGF-1 but testosterone which is responsible for the intensity of antler growth in subadult and adult red deer stags.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-698
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Antler growth
  • Cervus elaphus
  • IGF-1
  • Red deer
  • Testosterone


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