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Yiyan Wang, Fenfen Chen, Leping Ye, Barry Zirkin, and Haolin Chen

Serum testosterone (TS) levels decrease with aging in both humans and rodents. Using the rat as a model system, it was found that age-related reductions in serum TS were not due to loss of Leydig cells, but rather to the reduced ability of the Leydig cells to produce TS in response to luteinizing hormone (LH). Detailed analyses of the steroidogenic pathway have suggested that two defects along the pathway, LH-stimulated cAMP production and cholesterol transport to and into the mitochondria, are of particular importance in age-related reductions in TS production. Although the mechanisms involved in these defects are far from certain, increasing oxidative stress appears to play a particularly important role. Interestingly, increased oxidative stress also appears to be involved in the suppressive effects of endocrine disruptors on Leydig cell TS production.

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Xiaoheng Li, Lanlan Chen, Yiyan Wang, Huitao Li, Qiqi Zhu, and Ren-Shan Ge

In brief

Glucagon-like peptide-1 stimulates stem Leydig cell development. Glucagon-like peptide-1 stimulates stem Leydig cell differentiation without affecting its proliferation.


The regulators of stem Leydig cell (SLC) development remain largely unknown. The effect of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) on rat SLC proliferation and differentiation was investigated using a 3D tissue culture system and an ethane dimethane sulfonate (EDS)-treated in vivo LC regeneration model. RNA-seq analysis was performed to analyze pathways in which GLP-1 may be involved. GLP-1 (3 and 30 nmol/L) significantly increased medium testosterone abundances and upregulated the expression of Scarb1, Cyp11a1, and Hsd11b1. GLP-1 in vitro did not affect SLC proliferation by 5-Ethynyl-2’- deoxyuridine (EdU) incorporation assay. Intratesticular injection of GLP-1 (10 and 100 ng/testis) into the LC-depleted testis from day 14 to day 28 post-EDS significantly increased serum testosterone abundances and upregulated the expression of Cyp11a1, Hsd3b1, and Hsd11b1. It did not affect the number of HSD11B1+ and CYP11A1+ LCs. RNA-seq analysis revealed that GLP-1 upregulated several pathways, including cAMP-PKA-EPAC1 and MEK/ERK1/2. GLP-1 stimulates SLC differentiation without affecting its proliferation, showing its novel action and mechanism on rat SLC development.