Stereological methods were employed to determine volume and surface densities of cytoplasmic organelles in Leydig cells of hamster, rat, rabbit, dog, and guinea pig testes. Contralateral testes were perfused in vitro with maximally stimulating gonadotropin concentrations to determine the capacity of these testes to secrete testosterone. Significantly different amounts of testosterone were secreted by in vitro perfused testes of the five species when maximally stimulated with ovine LH. Significant differences also were seen in the volume and surface densities of smooth endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, rough endoplasmic reticulum, and lipids in Leydig cell cytoplasm of the five species. Most interestingly, linear positive correlations were seen between testosterone secretion and smooth endoplasmic reticulum volume (r = 0.99) and surface (r = 0.99) densities. Thus, virtually all of the differences in testosterone secretion by maximally stimulated testes of five species could be accounted for by between-species differences in the amount of Leydig cell smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
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