The purpose of this study was to determine whether the levels of sulfated glycoprotein-2 (SGP-2) and/or transferrin mRNA in Sertoli cells responds to testosterone in the adult rat testis and, if so, to distinguish between the effects of testosterone and those of changing populations of germ cells. To this end we have examined changes in the steady state levels of these two mRNAs in relationship to changes in intratesticular testosterone concentration and germ cell numbers after treatment of adult hypophysectomized rats with testosterone. Hypophysectomy for 4 weeks caused intratesticular testosterone concentrations to become reduced from 50 to 3 ng/ml and caused significant reductions in the numbers of testicular spermatozoa (undetectable), round spermatids (nearly undetectable), and pachytene spermatocytes (12% of normal). Intratesticular testosterone concentrations rose to 30 ng/ml within 3 days after implantation of testosterone-containing polydimethylsiloxane capsules into the hypophysectomized rats. Three days after the initiation of testosterone treatment, increases were seen in the numbers of round spermatids (10% of normal) and pachytene spermatocytes (29% of normal). The major increases in the numbers of these cells and of spermatozoa occurred between days 14–56 of testosterone treatment, with pachytene spermatocytes reaching a maximum of 75% of the control level by day 28, and round spermatids and spermatozoa reaching 75% and 21% of the control levels, respectively, by 56 days. The steady state levels of SGP-2 mRNA were not affected by hypophysectomy, testosterone administration, or subsequent increases in germ cell numbers. In contrast, transferrin mRNA levels were reduced by hypophysectomy. As found for SGP-2, transferrin mRNA levels were unresponsive to increased testosterone concentration, but, unlike SGP-2 mRNA, transferrin mRNA increased as germ cells were restored after testosterone administration. These results suggest that SGP-2 mRNA is not regulated by testosterone or germ cells, but that the level of transferrin mRNA is influenced by the interaction of Sertoli and germ cells in the adult rat testis.
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