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C. L. Au, D. C. Irby, D. M. Robertson, and D. M. de Kretser

Summary. Rats were given s.c. implants of high (HT) or low (LT) doses of testosterone and 10 days later hypophysectomy or sham-operation was performed. The rats were killed after 50 days. Unilateral efferent duct ligation was performed 16 h before death to measure seminiferous tubule fluid production and the increment in testicular inhibin values (inhibin production). Inhibin levels in testis cytosols were measured by a pituitary cell culture bioassay. The LT implants maintained serum testosterone at control values and decreased testicular weight whereas HT implants raised serum testosterone 3-fold and maintained testicular weight at 75–85% of pretreatment levels. In intact rats, LT implants caused no change in testicular inhibin content but decreased inhibin production; no significant changes occurred with HT implants. After hypophysectomy both values were significantly suppressed and could not be maintained by HT or LT implants. However, the HT implants partly restored inhibin production despite their inability to influence testicular inhibin content. In contrast, tubule fluid production depended mainly on intratesticular testosterone levels and occurred normally in intact or hypophysectomized rats with HT but not LT implants. These results indicate that inhibin and seminiferous tubule fluid production, both functions of the Sertoli cell, are under different hormonal control. The maintenance of inhibin production by the testis requires the support of pituitary hormones, presumably FSH, while seminiferous tubule fluid production requires testosterone, presumably through LH stimulation of Leydig cells. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibin is produced in response to trophic stimulation by FSH.

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D. C. Irby, J. B. Kerr, G. P. Risbridger, and D. M. de Kretser

Summary. Serum concentrations of LH, FSH and testosterone were measured monthly throughout the year in male bush rats. Testicular size and ultrastructure, LH/hCG, FSH and oestradiol receptors and the response of the pituitary to LHRH were also recorded.

LH and FSH rose in parallel with an increase in testicular size after the winter solstice with peak gonadotrophin levels in the spring (September). The subsequent fall in LH and FSH levels was associated with a rise in serum testosterone which reached peak levels during summer (December and January). In February serum testosterone levels and testicular size declined in parallel, while the pituitary response to an LHRH injection was maximal during late summer. The number of LH/hCG, FSH and oestradiol receptors per testis were all greatly reduced in the regressed testes when compared to active testes.

In a controlled environment of decreased lighting (shortened photoperiod), temperature and food quality, the testes of sexually active adult males regressed at any time of the year, the resultant testicular morphology and endocrine status being identical to that of wild rats in the non-breeding season. Full testicular regression was achieved only when the photoperiod, temperature and food quality were changed: experiments in which only one or two of these factors were altered failed to produce complete sexual regression.

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D. M. Robertson, M. Prisk, J. W. McMaster, D. C. Irby, J. K. Findlay, and D. M. de Kretser

Summary. After a single i.v. injection of purified human recombinant inhibin A (hr-inhibin) or bovine follicular fluid (bFF) to 3-day castrated 35-day-old male rats, serum FSH concentrations fell (P < 0·05) between 4 and 8 h, returning to control concentrations by 16–24 h. Administration of graded doses of hr-inhibin (0·625–10 μg/100 g body wt) and bFF (31·3–250 μl/100 g body wt) resulted in a parallel dose-related suppression of serum FSH with a maximum suppression 50% of controls. Similar experiments in 2-day ovariectomized 85-day-old female rats also showed a dose-related suppression with a maximum suppression approximately 30% of controls. Serum LH concentrations remained unchanged in all studies with male or female rats.

The biological activity of hr-inhibin in vivo was determined for male and female rats in terms of a standard bFF preparation defined by an in-vitro bioassay based on the suppression of FSH content in rat pituitary cells in culture. In males hr-inhibin exhibited a biopotency of 407 (159:1050; fiducial limits) U/μg protein and in females the biopotency was 358 (226:565) U/μg protein. These potencies are lower than that measured in the in-vitro bioassay (1120 (1040:1210) U/μg protein) and differences between in-vivo and in-vitro systems were attributed to the use of bFF rather than a purified human inhibin preparation as standard. These results indicate that hr-inhibin behaves similarly in vivo to bFF. Furthermore, based on the large working range and relatively good precision, the female rat system provides a good basis for an inhibin in-vivo bioassay method.

Keywords: inhibin; bioassay; in vivo; in vitro; rat