Androgen profiles during pubertal Leydig cell development in mice

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Aging; Androgens; Animals; Blotting, Northern; Cell Differentiation; Cell Separation; Female; Immunohistochemistry; Leydig Cells; Luteinizing Hormone; Male; Mice; Mice, Transgenic; Pregnancy; RNA, Messenger; Rats; Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction; Sexual Maturation; Steroids; Stimulation, Chemical; Testis


Cell Biology


Postnatal Leydig cell (LC) development in mice has been assumed empirically to resemble that of rats, which have characteristic hormonal profiles at well-defined maturational stages. To characterize the changes in LC function and gene expression in mice, we examined reproductive hormone expression from birth to 180 days, and quantified in vivo and in vitro production of androgens during sexual maturation. Although the overall plasma androgen and LH profiles from birth through puberty were comparable to that of rats, the timing of developmental changes in androgen production and steroidogenic capacity of isolated LCs differed. In mice, onset of androgen biosynthetic capacity, distinguished by an acute rise in androstenedione and testosterone production and an increased expression of the steroidogenic enzymes, cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme and 17alpha-hydroxylase, occurred at day 24 (d24) rather than at d21 as reported in rats. Moreover, in contrast to persistently high testosterone production by pubertal and adult rat LCs, testosterone production was maximal at d45 in mice, and then declined in mature LCs. The murine LCs also respond more robustly to LH stimulation, with a greater increment in LH-stimulated testosterone production. Collectively, these data suggest that the mouse LC lineage has a delayed onset, and that it has an accelerated pace of maturation compared with the rat LC lineage. Across comparable maturational stages, LCs exhibit species-specific developmental changes in enzyme expression and capacity for androgen production. Our results demonstrate distinct differences in LC differentiation between mice and rats, and provide informative data for assessing reproductive phenotypes of recombinant mouse models.

DOI of Published Version



Reproduction. 2010 Jul;140(1):113-21. Epub 2010 May 7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Reproduction (Cambridge, England)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID