Summary. Adult rats were made bilaterally cryptorchid and studied at intervals of 3, 7, 14 or 21 days to study temporal changes in Leydig cell function. Serum FSH and LH levels were measured and the cross-sectional area of the Leydig cells assessed by morphometry. The function of the Leydig cells was judged by the binding of 125I-labelled hCG to testicular tissue in vitro and the testosterone response of the testis to hCG stimulation in vitro. By 3 days after cryptorchidism, the binding of labelled hCG to testicular tissue was significantly decreased compared to that of controls, but the testes were able to respond to hCG stimulation in vitro. At 7, 14 and 21 days after cryptorchidism, an enhanced testosterone response was observed and the size of the Leydig cells was significantly greater than that of the controls, which indicated increased secretory activity by the cryptorchid testis. Although serum FSH levels were significantly elevated after 3 days of cryptorchidism, serum LH levels did not rise until 7 days, thereby suggesting that the loss of receptors is unlikely to result from down-regulation by LH. The reduced testosterone response of the cryptorchid testis in vivo to low doses of hCG and the enhanced response at high doses are probably related to the reduced blood flow to the cryptorchid testis and the decreased sensitivity of the Leydig cells induced by LH/hCG receptor loss.
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