The Journal of reproduction and development

Influence of fetal Leydig cells on the development of adult Leydig cell population in rats.

PMID 29515056


Leydig cells are the main endogenous testosterone synthesis cells in the body. Testosterone is an essential hormone in males that affects metabolism, emotion, and pubertal development. However, little is known about the development of Leydig cells and relationship between fetal Leydig cells (FLCs) and adult Leydig cells (ALCs). The aims of this study were to investigate the effect of (FLCs) on ALC development. Our study showed that FLCs in neonatal rat testis can be eliminated by 100 mg/kg ethane dimethane sulfonate (EDS) treatment without affecting the health of newborn rats. Immunohistological results showed that eliminating FLCs led to early re-generation of the ALC population (progenitor Leydig cells [PLCs] and ALCs) accompanied at first by increased and then by decreased serum testosterone, indicating that ALCs which appeared after neonatal EDS treatment were degenerated or had attenuated functions. Our results showed that FLCs were eliminated 4 days after EDS treatment, the ALC population regenerated by 21 days, and serum testosterone levels dramatically decreased at 56 days. Collectively, our results indicate that the ablation of FLCs in neonatal rat results in abnormal development of ALCs. Our study further indicates that abnormal development of Leydig cells in the fetal stage leads to steroid hormone disorders, such as testosterone deficiency, in the adult stage. Therefore, studies of Leydig cell development are important for understanding the pathogenesis of testosterone deficiency or pubertas praecox.