A Short-Term Exposure to Tributyltin Blocks Leydig Cell Regeneration in the Adult Rat Testis
The development of a new population of Leydig cells after specific elimination of existing Leydig cells in mature rats by ethylene dimethanesulphonate (EDS) was characterized by investigating the testicular activities of 5 alpha-reductase and non-specific esterase, the serum concentrations of 3 alpha-androstanediol and testosterone and the Leydig cell morphology. Plasma concentrations of both androgens were strongly reduced up to 15 days after administration of EDS. Thereafter, in contrast to the gradual and continuous increase of serum testosterone values, the changes in serum 3 alpha-androstanediol were transient, with the highest level on Day 35. The temporal pattern of testicular 5 alpha-reductase activity was almost similar to that of serum 3 alpha-androstanediol. The testicular esterase activity increased gradually from Day 25 until Day 76. The temporal changes in steroid concentrations and enzyme activities after EDS administration indicate that the development of the Leydig cells in EDS-treated rats occurs in a fashion similar to that in pubertal rats. However, the numerous lipid droplets and large nuclei in these Leydig cells indicate that these cells may also be classified as fetal cells. It is concluded that, after treatment with EDS, fetal and pubertal characteristics are present in Leydig cells. It is, however, unknown whether both characteristics are present in one or in two distinct cell populations.