Effect of unilateral cryptorchidism on the intertubular tissue of the adult rat testis: evidence for intracellular changes within the Leydig cells

J. B. Kerr, G. P. Risbridger, P. J. Murray, C. M. Knell

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Adult male rats were made unilaterally cryptorchid for 1, 2 or 4 weeks, and the morphological response of the Leydig cells was then studied using morphometric assessment of total Leydig cell volume and number per testis in abdominal and scrotal testes. Serum hormone levels were measured and the steroidogenic properties of isolated Leydig cells were evaluated by in‐vitro stimulation with hCG and interstitial fluid (IF) obtained from normal rat testes. Total Leydig cell volume and number per testis were not altered in abdominal vs scrotal testes, although the volume of the abdominal testis was 46, 29 and 21%, respectively, of the volume of the contralateral scrotal testis after 1, 2 and 4 weeks. This reduction was accompanied by significant (P < 0.05) elevation of the serum levels of FSH and LH, although serum testosterone levels were unchanged from the normal range. Despite the lack of quantitative alterations in Leydig cell morphology, hCG‐ and IF‐stimulated testosterone production was significantly (P < 0.01) greater by abdominal Leydig cells when compared with scrotal Leydig cells derived from the same animals. Ultrastructural examination of Leydig cells in situ suggested an increase in volumetric density of mitochondria in abdominal Leydig cells. Together with the enhanced steroidogenic responses of these cells, these findings suggest that disruption of spermatogenesis in the cryptorchid testis is accompanied by intracelMar activation of Leydig cells. Since these effects were not exhibited by Leydig cells from the scrotal testis it is concluded that local factors within the cryptorchid testis are responsible, at least in part, for regulation of Leydig cell activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Andrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1988


  • cryptorchidism
  • Leydig cells
  • morphometry
  • paracrine regulation
  • testis

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