Depletion of endogenous LH with sc implants of testosterone-17β-estradiol (T-E) caused a reduction in the Leydig cell smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) over a 10-day treatment period. Decreases also occurred in some, but not all, of the testicular steroidogenic reactions responsible for the conversion of pregnenolone (PREG) to testosterone. The conversions of progesterone (PROG) to 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, 17α hydroxyprogesterone to androstenedione, and androstenedione to testosterone were significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with the loss of Leydig cell SER. In contrast, the testicular conversion of PREG to PROG in rats deprived of endogenous LH for up to 10 days was identical to that in intact controls. Similar results were obtained when rats were hypophysectomized for 10 days. These results indicate that the Leydig cell enzyme activities responsible for converting PREG to PROG are distributed in the Leydig cell SER fraction which remains in Leydig cell cytoplasm 10 days after LH withdrawal, and thus, the bulk of these enzyme activities are sequested in a SER compartment that is resistant to LH withdrawal.
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