The rise in serum immunoactive inhibin levels in male rats following hCG stimulation raised the possibility that Leydig cells may produce inhibin. This study therefore evaluated whether Percoll-purified Leydig cells from adult male rats synthesized and secreted inhibin in vitro as measured by Northern blot analysis, radioimmunoassay and in vitro bioassay. Northern blot analysis demonstrated the presence of α-inhibin subunit mRNA in the Leydig cell and inhibin bioactivity was detected in Leydig cell culture media. Levels of immunoactive inhibin increased in culture over 20 h and were directly dependent on the number of Leydig cells in culture. rLH (NIADDK-rLH-I-6) and not rFSH (NIADDK-rFSH-I-6) stimulated immunoactive inhibin levels in a dose-depedent manner. This study demonstrates that Leydig cells express mRNA for the a-subunit of inhibin and produce inhibin which is biologically and immunologically active prompting a re-evaluation of our concepts of testicular inhibin production.
- Leydig cell