Acute and short-term actions of serotonin administration on the pituitary-testicular axis in the adult rat

M. P. Hedged, S. Khatab, G. Gonzales, D. M. De Kretser

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In this study, adult male rats were injected intraperitoneally with a single dose of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT; 10 mg kg-1 bodyweight) for 2 h or 18 h, or daily with graded doses of 5HT (0-1-10 mg kg-1) for four days before being killed. Serum and testicular interstitial fluid (IF) concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone and immunoreactive-inhibin were measured by radioimmunoassay, and one testis was removed for histological examination. At 2 h after a single injection, 5HT caused a significant inhibition of serum concentrations of LH and inhibin, recovered IF volume and intratesticular testosterone concentrations; testis weight and serum concentrations of testosterone and FSH were unaffected. At 18 h after injection, all parameters had returned to normal, with the exception of intratesticular testosterone concentration which remained lower than normal. The lowest 5HT dose (0-1mg kg-1) had no effect on any parameter following four daily injections. At a dose of 1-0 mg kg-1 5HT, there was a four-fold increase in the concentration of serum LH, but testis weight, recovered IF volume, testosterone and inhibin concentrations and serum concentrations of FSH were not significantly affected. At the highest dose of 5HT (10 mg kg-1) after four daily injections, testis weight decreased, and IF volume increased nearly three-fold. Testis concentrations of inhibin and serum testosterone were reduced, whereas serum concentrations of both LH and FSH were elevated; intratesticular testosterone concentrations did not differ from controls. Only at the highest dose of 5HT was disruption to the seminiferous epithelium observed, with focal damage ranging in severity from increased degeneration of spermatogenic cell profiles, to complete loss of the germinal epithelium; however, many tubule profiles displayed completely normal spermatogenesis. The acute IF volume reduction and spermatogenic disruption in 5HT-treated rats were consistent with localized ischaemia due to constriction of the testicular arterial supply. The eventual increase in IF volume observed after 5HT treatment appeared to be secondary to the loss of germ cells. Although 5HT also inhibited pituitary LH release and Leydig cell steroidogenesis, these effects appeared to play only a minor role in the induction of spermatogenic damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1109
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • FSH
  • Inhibin
  • LH
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Testosterone
  • Vasculature

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