Effect of serum and serum lipoproteins on testosterone production by adult rat leydig cells in vitro

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The effect of serum factors other than luteinizing hormone on Leydig cell testosterone secretion was examined using an in vitro bioassay system based on the stimulation of purified adult rat Leydig cells during a 20 h incubation in the presence of a maximal dose of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). Charcoal-extracted serum and testicular interstitial fluid (IF) from normal adult male rats were separated into lipoprotein and lipoprotein-deficient fractions by density ultracentrifugation. Stimulatory bioactivity was found in the lipoprotein fraction of both serum and IF, although the levels of lipoprotein and corresponding bioactivity recovered from IF were significantly lower (25%) than those of serum. There was no difference between the effects of serum lipoproteins on Leydig cell testosterone production stimulated by either hCG or dibutyryl cAMP. In time-course studies, the serum lipoprotein fraction had no effect on hCG-stimulated testosterone production in vitro at 3.0 or 6.0 h, but partially prevented the normal decline in hCG-stimulated testosterone production after 6.0 h. In contrast, unfractionated serum was stimulatory at all time-points. In the absence of hCG, the lipoprotein fraction was stimulatory at both 6.0 and 20 h, although not at 3.0 h. The lipoprotein-deficient protein fraction of serum had no effect on hCG-stimulated testosterone production alone, but significantly enhanced the bioactivity of the lipoprotein fraction, and caused a dose-dependent stimulation of testosterone production in the presence of a constant concentration of serum lipoproteins. Both a stimulatory peak of activity (apparent Mw 40-80 kDa), and a large Mw(>100 kDa) inhibitor of testosterone production were identified in serum after fractionation by gel filtration (Sephadex G-100). The data indicate that (i) the stimulatory effect of serum on short-term hCG-stimulated Leydig cell testosterone production in vitro is predominantly due to the serum lipoprotein fraction, possibly by providing additional precursors for testosterone synthesis, (ii) the biological activity of the lipoproteins is influenced by both stimulatory and inhibitory serum proteins in addition to luteinizing hormone, and (iii) that serum lipoproteins may be involved in supporting Leydig cell steroidogenesis in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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