Age‐Related Decreased Leydig Cell Testosterone Production in the Brown Norway Rat


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ABSTRACT: Previous studies have demonstrated that Leydig cell testosterone production diminishes with age in Brown Norway rats. The objective of the studies presented herein was to test the following possible explanations for age‐related decline in steroidogenesis: (1) decline in Leydig cell number; (2) understimulation by luteinizing hormone (LH); (3) reduced ability of individual Leydig cells to produce testosterone; and (4) influence of loss of germ cells. Leydig cells isolated from the testes of young and aged rats by centrifugal elutriation and Percoll density gradient centrifugation were examined for their ability to produce testosterone when stimulated maximally with LH or with dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP). Leydig cell number and volume were examined in situ using stereological methods. Serum LH levels were measured using a highly sensitive immunofluorometric assay. Average Leydig cell volume decreased with age, and consistent with this observation, individual Leydig cells isolated from aging rats produced significantly less testosterone than those from young rats whether the cells were cultured in vitro with maximally stimulating LH or with dbcAMP. The age‐associated diminished testosterone production could not be explained by changes in Leydig cell number, serum LH levels, Leydig cell responsiveness to LH, or testicular germ cell content. These results, taken together, suggest that the reduced testosterone production seen in aged rats is related to defects in the steroidogenic pathway beyond the LH receptor‐cAMP cascade. The nature of the initial age‐related changes that cause reduced steroidogenesis is not known, and therefore it is not known whether such changes are intrinsic or extrinsic to the Leydig cells. 1994 American Society of Andrology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of andrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Brown Norway rat
  • LH
  • Leydig cell
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Urology


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