Male rats treated with a single injection of antiserum to LHRH (LHRH-AS) at 5 days of age have small testes as adults. In the present investigation, the serial maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis was studied in young male rats passively immunized with LHRH-AS. Testicular and epididymal weights, serum androgen and gonadotropin levels, testicular receptors for human CG (hCG), and androgen binding protein (ABP) concentrations in serum, testis, and epididymis were compared in developing animals treated with a single ip injection of LHRH-AS or normal rabbit serum. Rats treated with LHRH-AS had lower serum concentrations of ABP at all ages; the highest levels were on days 22-24, which were several days later than controls. Testicular weight was about 60% that of the control at all ages from 10-90 days. A reduction in epididymal weight to 80% that of the control was seen only in adults at days 60 and 90. Testicular ABP content increased steadily with age, but its concentration peaked at day 17 for controls and day 22 for LHRH-AS treated animals. Both testicular and epididymal ABP content were commensurate with testicular weight in controls and treated rats through day 45. Similarly, hCG-receptor content and concentration increased steadily with age, but differences between control and treated groups paralleled testicular weight. These results suggest an effect of LHRH blockade at a critical period which impairs early testicular growth and causes a permanent reduction in growth. Sertoli cell function and hCG-receptor appearance are impaired in proportion to this reduction.
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