Hypophysectomy or sc implantation of testosterone-estradiol 17β (T-E) filled polydimethylsiloxane capsules for 5 days caused a dramatic reduction in testosterone secretion when testes subsequently were perfused in vitro. The diminution in testosterone-secreting capacity of testes from T-E treated rats was coupled closely with reductions in the membrane surface areas of Leydig cell cytoplasmic organelles, particularly those of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum. Simultaneous treatment of T-E implanted rats with LH (12 μg/day), but not with FSH, PRL, TSH, or GH, maintained both the Leydig-cell cytoplasmic membranes and the capacity of testes to secrete testosterone in vitro. Testosterone secretion by testes from hypophysectomized rats treated simultaneously with T-E plus LH was identical to that in control rats. Therefore, T-E did not inhibit directly the Leydig cell steroidogenic apparatus. Taken together these results suggest that one of the trophic effects of LH in the Leydig cell is to maintained the integrity of smooth endoplasmic reticulum and enzymes responsible for the conversion of pregnenolone to testosterone.
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