Molecular and cellular endocrinology vol:49 issue:2-3 pages:137-47
It is demonstrated that tubular fragments derived from human testes and cultured in vitro produce a factor that stimulates the production of testosterone by human interstitial cells and by Percoll-purified Leydig cells from rat and mouse origin. The active principle in the conditioned media is a thermo-labile and trypsin-sensitive protein with an MW greater than 10,000. The factor is active in the presence as well as in the absence of maximally effective concentrations of LH and its activity is not accompanied by measurable changes in cAMP production. There are several points of analogy between this factor and a Leydig cell stimulatory protein produced by rat Sertoli cells. Molecular weight fractionation of spent media from human testicular tubules using an Amicon ultrafiltration system results in a 38- to 102-fold increase in Leydig cell stimulatory activity in a fraction corresponding to a molecular weight of 10,000 up to 30,000. These figures are comparable to those observed after molecular weight fractionation of spent media from rat Sertoli cells. Dose-response curves with partially purified preparations from human and rat origin yield parallel dose-response curves. In rat Sertoli cells as well as in human testicular tubules, the production of the active principle is stimulated by FSH and dibutyryl cAMP. Finally, maximally effective concentrations of the active principles of human and rat origin display no additive effects whereas additive effects are clearly evident with other Leydig cell stimulatory factors such as LHRHa and EGF. The hypothesis is advanced that the Leydig cell stimulatory factors from tubular origin may act as paracrine regulatory molecules responsible for the effects of FSH on Leydig cell function.