Androgen production by adult rat Leydig cells is stimulated by pituitary LH but can also be modulated in vitro by paracrine stimulatory and inhibitory factors, many of which belong to growth factor families. Their actions are mediated through cell surface or extracellular matrix proteoglycans and the aim of this study was to determine the role of cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans in the regulation of testosterone secretion by adult rat Leydig cells. The presence of sodium chlorate (25 mM) and protamine sulfate (10 μg/ml) inhibited testosterone production by LH stimulated cells by over 50%, but had no effect on unstimulated cells. The LH responsiveness and testosterone production returned to normal after these agents were removed from the culture media. No significant difference in LH receptor numbers at the end of the culture period was seen between sodium chlorate treated and untreated cells. Testosterone production by dibutryl-cAMP stimulated Leydig cells was also inhibited by sodium chlorate. The addition of heparin inhibited testosterone production by LH stimulated cells in a dose-dependent manner, however, in unstimulated Leydig cells heparin stimulated testosterone production to up to 50% of that seen in LH stimulated cells. These data suggest that cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans modulate testosterone production by adult Leydig cells in vitro, and that this may involve the autocrine actions of heparin binding growth factors on the Leydig cells.
- Leydig cell
- Paracrine/autocrine regulation
- Testis (rat testis)