Journal of steroid biochemistry vol:25 issue:3 pages:393-402
There is increasing evidence that factors derived from the seminiferous tubules influence Leydig cell function in a paracrine way. In previous experiments we demonstrated that conditioned media from Sertoli cell-enriched cultures contain a protein with stimulatory activity on prepubertal rat Leydig cells. In this paper we further studied the specificity of this factor. In addition we describe a simple but efficient partial purification procedure. It is demonstrated that Sertoli cell conditioned media contain a factor that stimulates the testosterone output from prepubertal and adult Leydig cells. The effects are evident within the first hour of incubation and can be observed in the presence as well as in the absence of LH. Peritubular cells do not produce a similar factor but enhance the production of the Leydig cell stimulating factor when cocultured with Sertoli cells. The Sertoli cell factor acts on rat as well as on mouse Leydig cells. It barely influences the adrenostenedione output of ovarian stromal cells or the corticosterone output of adrenal cells. The production of this factor is enhanced by dbcAMP, FSH, L-isoproterenol and glucagon but is not affected by androgens. The characteristics of the Sertoli cell factor have been compared with those of a Leydig cell stimulating factor in the medium from an established rabbit kidney cell line: RK13. It is shown that the active principle in RK13 conditioned medium is also a thermolabile trypsin-sensitive protein with a mol. wt of more than 10,000. Nonetheless, the RK13 and Sertoli cell derived factors act by different mechanisms since at maximally effective concentrations their effects are additive. Finally it is demonstrated that molecular weight fractionation of Sertoli cell conditioned medium using an Amicon ultrafiltration system results in a 50- to 130-fold increase in Sertoli cell factor activity in a fraction corresponding to a mol. wt of 10,000 up to 30,000.