Does age-associated reduced Leydig cell testosterone production in Brown Norway rats result from understimulation by luteinizing hormone?

Francis W. Grzywacz, Haolin Chen, John Allegretti, Barry R. Zirkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that reductions in Leydig cell testosterone production occur with aging in the Brown Norway rat. The recent observation that changes in luteinizing hormone (LH) pulse interval and amplitude also occur with aging suggests the possibility that age-related reduced Leydig cell steroidogenesis might be related to changes in LH. We reasoned that, if this is the case, exogenously administered LH should restore testosterone production by aged rat Leydig cells to the higher levels produced by Leydig cells of young rats. To test this hypothesis, young (4-month-old) and aged (21-month-old) rats received testosterone- and estradiol-containing Silastic implants designed to suppress LH and, thus, endogenous Leydig cell testosterone production. At the same time, the rats received miniosmotic pumps programmed to deliver pulsatile ovine LH at a predetermined daily dose. In some experiments, treatment effects were determined by measuring testosterone production by testes perfused in vitro with maximally stimulating ovine LH. In others, Leydig cells were isolated by centrifugal elutriation and Percoll density gradient centrifugation, and their in vitro ability to produce testosterone in response to maximally stimulating LH was determined. Testes or isolated Leydig cells from untreated young rats produced about twice as much testosterone as that produced by Leydig cells from aged rats. The administration of testosterone- and estradiol-filled implants for 5 days reduced testosterone production significantly at both ages. In young rats administered 24 μg LH/day for 5 days, along with the implants, testosterone production was maintained at the high level of the young controls. Comparable treatment of aged rats resulted in testosterone production only at the low level of the aged controls. Indeed, even with higher LH doses (36 μg/day), testosterone production by the aged rat Leydig cells did not rise above the aged-control level. The inability of exogenously administered LH to increase testosterone production by testes and Leydig cells of aged rats suggests that Leydig cell steroidogenic deficits in the aged Brown Norway rat are unlikely to be the result of age-related changes in LH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-630
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of andrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Aging
  • Rat
  • Steroids
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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