The age-related changes in tissue response to chronic treatment for 1 month with a potent LHRH agonist were investigated in the ageing male rat, and the observed pharmacological effects were compared with orchidectomy. In both young (4 months) and old (22 months) rats, treatment resulted in a significant decrease in the weights of prostates and testes, a decrease in plasma LH and testosterone levels, a loss of LH receptors in the testes and in a complete depletion of prostatic nuclear androgen receptors, reaching levels observed after castration. In young rats, treatment with an LHRH agonist or orchidectomy induced a three- or sixfold increase in prostatic creatine kinase (CK) activity which may have been induced by the local stimulatory effect of oestradiol arising from the conversion of precursor steroids secreted by the adrenal. On the other hand, in old rats, 7 days after orchidectomy or after treatment with an LHRH agonist a twofold increase or no change was induced in prostatic CK activity respectively. SDS gel electrophoresis patterns of cytosolic prostatic proteins of young rats treated with an LHRH agonist or young rats orchidectomized 7 days previously revealed the presence of several intensified proteins, two of them having apparent molecular weight of 67 kDa and 43 kDa, whereas in the old rats treated with LHRH agonist or old rats castrated 7 days previously, these two proteins were not intensified. The results of this study confirmed that continuous treatment with an LHRH agonist to young and old rats induces medical castration since the pharmacological effects observed were the same as those induced with surgical castration. However, in the old rats, the lack of an increase in prostatic CK activity upon treatment with LHRH agonist, and the moderate increase in CK activity upon orchidectomy, suggest that prostatic cells in older rats have decreased sensitivity to hormonal manipulation.
Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 124, 261–268