Acute and long-term effects of neonatal and prepubertal treatments with an LH-releasing hormone agonist (LHRH-A) were studied in Wistar male rats. Animals injected with d-Ala6-d-Gly10-LHRH ethylamide (2 μg/kg per day) or vehicle from days 1 to 15 or from days 16 to 29 were killed at different ages. Treatment between days 1 and 15 induced a decrease in both pituitary FSH and LH content as well as a reduction in plasma FSH and blockade of the response to LHRH. These effects were apparent on day 16 after treatment. Basal and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)-stimulated progesterone and testosterone secretion in vitro was similar in testes from male rats treated with LHRH-A or vehicle. Reduced testicular weight was observed until day 90, whereas puberty, spermatogenesis and fertility were unaffected. The decrease in plasma FSH concentrations after neonatal treatment with LHRH-A was also found in groups of animals killed on day 10 and was possibly the cause of reduced testicular weight, since treatment with FSH from day 1 to day 15 blocked the effect of LHRH-A. Likewise, treatment with LHRH-A from day 1 to day 15 also reduced FSH and LH secretion in males orchidectomized on day 1 of life.
Animals injected with LHRH-A from day 15 to day 29 exhibited, at the end of the treatment period, reduced testicular weight, and decreased pituitary gonadotrophin content and plasma FSH concentrations, whereas LH plasma concentrations were normal. In adulthood, the pituitary-testis function did not vary from normal. Our results demonstrate that: (1) administration of LHRH-A from day 1 to day 15 of life desensitized the gonadotrophs, which in turn lowered plasma gonadotrophin concentrations and caused a long-term reduction in testis weight without changes in the quality of spermatogenesis or reproductive activity in adulthood; (2) chronic treatment with LHRH-A during the neonatal period did not result in a steroidogenic lesion; and (3) administration of LHRH-A from day 15 to day 29 produced only a transient reduction in testicular weight and in spermatogenesis.