The influence of age on the sensitivity of the testis to oestrogens was investigated. Intact male rats at 10, 25, 40 and 53 days of age were injected s.c. with vehicle, 5 or 50 μg oestradiol or diethylstilboestrol (DES)/100 g body wt twice daily for 2 days; the animals were killed 12 h after the last injection. Subsequently, the concentrations of testicular androgens and serum LH, prolactin, testosterone and androstanediol (5α-androstane-3α,17β-diol) were measured. Testicular androgen production was determined in vitro in the presence or absence of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP). Androgen in the serum and testes displayed an age-related alternating pattern with androstanediol being the major androgen produced at 27 days of age. As a result of oestrogen treatment, serum LH concentrations were decreased while serum prolactin was increased. Serum testosterone was decreased by 36-55% in the 12-day old group and further reduced by 95% of control values by day 55; serum androstanediol was less sensitive to oestrogen suppression. Testicular concentrations of both testosterone and androstanediol exhibited a marked reduction in 12-day-old animals as a result of oestrogen administration. These values were reduced by 85-95% at day 27 and remained suppressed even at 55 days. Basal production of testosterone was unaffected by oestrogen treatment in 12- and 27-day-old animals but was markedly decreased by day 42. Significant suppression of basal production of androstanediol was observed as early as day 12. Oestradiol treatment caused a significant reduction in hCG responsiveness of both androgens at days 12, 42 and 55. Oestrogen administration resulted in a significant (32-59%) decline in dbcAMP-responsive testosterone production in the 42-day group and a further suppression in the 55-day group. A marked inhibition of dbcAMP-stimulated androstanediol production was also observed in the 42- and 55-day groups. Testosterone production in response to dbcAMP was not significantly altered in 12- and 27-day groups. With few exceptions the effects of oestradiol and DES on testicular function were similar. The data presented here suggest that the inhibitory effects of oestrogens become more pronounced as the animal approaches adulthood, that oestradiol and DES are similarly effective in regulating testicular function at all ages studied and that the production of both testosterone and androstanediol are suppressed by oestrogen administration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism