Hormonal regulation of oestrogen formation by Leydig cells in vitro: immunocytochemical approach
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The ability of the testis to convert androgens into oestrogens is related to the presence of a microsomal enzyme, aromatase, in testicular cells. The aim of this study was to show whether the supplementation of culture media with LH or an aromatase inhibitor could affect the process of aromatisation in Leydig cells of the bank vole in vitro. This was investigated by means of immunocytochemistry and radioimmunological assays. In control cultures of Leydig cells, both steroid hormones secretion as well as immunoreactivities for aromatase and oestrogen receptor were weaker than in those treated with LH. On the contrary, the addition of aromatase inhibitor into the culture medium resulted in a decreased intensity of immunocytochemical stainings in comparison with the control. Concomitantly, the androgen level was slightly higher, whereas that of oestrogen significantly lower than in the control cultures. Additionally, to check whether steroid hormones are able to regulate aromatase or oestrogen receptor immunoexpressions, some of the Leydig cell cultures were enriched with testosterone or oestradiol, respectively. Strong immunoreactivities for both aromatase and oestrogen receptor were observed. This suggests that Leydig cells in vitro are able to regulate directly the secretion of oestrogens by active aromatase. Finally, it is concluded that oestrogen formation in bank vole Leydig cells in vitro can be influenced by various factors. It should be stressed, however, that the effect of hormone stimulation or aromatase inhibitor action appeared to be dependent on the length of light cycles that bank voles were exposed prior to the isolation of Leydig cells.
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B. Bilinska, Laboratory of Endocrinology & Tissue Culture, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland