Seasonally and experimentally induced changes in testicular function of the Australian bush rat (Rattus fuscipes)

in Reproduction

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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