We have developed a transgenic (TG) mouse model for tumorigenesis of gonadal somatic cells using a 6 kb fragment of the mouse inhibin-alpha subunit promoter (Inh-alpha) fused with the simian virus 40 T-antigen (Tag) coding sequence. Gonadal tumors, of Leydig or granulosa cell origin, develop in the TG mice with 100% penetrance by the age of 5-8 months. Conspicuously, if the mice are gonadectomized, they develop adrenal tumors. Gonadal and adrenal tumorigenesis in these mice seem to be gonadotropin dependent. On the other hand, testosterone stimulates the proliferation of a cell line (C alpha 1) established from one of the adrenal tumors. The purpose of the present study was therefore to investigate further whether testosterone affects the growth of these gonadal and adrenal tumors in vivo. Two experimental models were used: (1) Tag TG/hypogonadotropic (hpg) double mutant mice and (2) castrated Tag TG mice. Both were treated between 1-2 and 7-8 months of age with Silastic rods (length 2 cm) containing testosterone. None of the control or testosterone-treated Tag/hpg mice developed gonadal or adrenal tumors. The castrated Tag TG mice displayed, upon microscopical examination, early stages of adrenal tumors, whereas those receiving testosterone did not show such changes. Testosterone increased the weights of gonads in the Tag/hpg mice, and those of uteri and seminal vesicles in both groups. In contrast, the adrenal weights were significantly reduced in both groups by testosterone treatment. Gonadal histology of the testosterone-treated mice showed hyperplasia of testicular Leydig cells and ovarian stroma. Spermatogenesis was induced by testosterone in the Tag/hpg mice. Adrenal histology of the testosterone-treated animals demonstrated the disappearance of the X-zone. Serum levels of FSH in testosterone-treated Tag/hpg mice were significantly increased, while those of serum LH were decreased. In conclusion, the present result indicate that the suppression of gonadotropins by testosterone implants in castrated Inh-alpha/Tag TG mice prevents the tumorigenesis of their adrenals. In intact Tag/hpg mice, testosterone implants were not able to induce gonadal or adrenal tumorigenesis. Although testosterone treatment was able to induce interstitial cell hyperplasia in gonads of the Inh-alpha/Tag mice, direct gonadotropin action is responsible for gonadal and adrenal tumorigenesis.
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