Summary. After a single dose of ethane dimethanesulphonate (EDS) (75 mg/kg) to rats the prolonged antispermatogenic action is due to a temporary elimination of the functional Leydig cell population. Replacement therapy with testosterone propionate (3 mg/day) maintains the spermatogenic epithelium but the EDS effect develops when hormone treatment is discontinued. In contrast, a short treatment with hCG (10–100 i.u./day) or LH (714 μg/day), starting before the EDS dose, permanently protects the spermatogenic epithelium. FSH treatment was completely ineffective. Although histological protection of spermatogenesis appeared complete with testosterone or hCG, effects on fertility remained but over different periods of time. Antispermatogenic and antifertility effects were produced in mice using much higher doses of EDS (5 × 250 mg/kg) but there was no protection from androgen or hCG. It is suggested that EDS binds to Leydig cells irreversibly, interfering with the action of gonadotrophin. At the dose level used the evidence suggests that the degree of reaction renders most of the Leydig cell population non-viable. A direct cytotoxic effect of the compound upon the spermatogenic epithelium might account for the inability of testosterone or hCG alone or in combination to maintain fertility at normal levels.
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