In an effort to determine whether the gubernaculum is the androgen responsive target tissue that facilitates testicular descent, the rabbit gubernaculum has been studied. During descent of the testis, the gubernaculum undergoes important morphologic alterations. These include and increase in size secondary to true growth, as measured by total DNA and RNA, and invagination resulting in testicular descent. These changes appear to be androgen sensitive because the changes are prevented by castration and are inducible by the administration of dihydrotestosterone. The presence of 5α-reductase activity in the gubernaculum at the critical stage lends further support to the role of androgen dependence in testicular descent. In addition, evidence is presented showing that intraabdominal pressure plays an important role in testicular descent. These data suggest that the gubernaculum may be the major target organ for androgen action, thus providing insight into the mechanism by which hormonal factors interact with physcial forces to effect descent of the testes.
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