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M. van Noort, F.F.G. Rommerts, A. van Amerongen and K.W.A. Wirtz


In testis tissue from mature rats the non-specific lipid transfer protein (nsLTP), also called sterol carrier protein2 (SCP2), is concentrated in the Leydig cells and cannot be detected in Sertoli cells or germinal cells. Conclusions were reached after cell fractionation studies with normal testis tissue and after selective destruction of Leydig cells or germinal cells in vivo.

The amount of nsLTP (SCP2) in testis tissue increased twofold 48 h after two daily injections of human chorionic gonadotrophin (100 i.u., s.c.) and decreased twofold after plasma luteinizing hormone levels were suppressed to almost undetectable levels with silicone elastomer implants containing testosterone.

The specific localization in the Leydig cells and the luteinizing hormone-dependent cellular concentration of nsLTP/SCP2 support the possibility that this protein could play a role in the regulation of steroidogenesis by regulating the availability of cholesterol for the P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme in the mitochondria of Leydig cells.

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D. M. Stocco, K. J. Teerds, M. van Noort and F. F. G. Rommerts


The biochemical activities involved in the maintenance of Leydig cell functions, and the effects of hypophysectomy and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) on these functions are largely unknown. In the present study, adult hypophysectomized rats were used as a model to determine the effects of these treatments on a number of biochemical and morphological parameters. After 33 days of hypophysectomy, the morphology of the Leydig cells had been drastically altered. In addition, α-naphthol and β-naphthol esterase activity as well as the steroidogenic capacity of the Leydig cells were greatly reduced at this time. In contrast, the level of sterol carrier protein 2 (SCP2), a Leydig cell-specific protein, was affected by hypophysectomy much less than the other parameters measured. Two daily injections of hCG to rats hypophysectomized for 31 days resulted in no change in the morphology of the Leydig cells, or in their proliferative activity. Non-specific esterase activities were also unaffected by 2 days of treatment with hCG. However, two injections of hCG to rats hypophysectomized for 31 days resulted in nearly complete restoration of steroidogenic capacity, and a 3·5-fold increase in the level of SCP2. These findings indicate that hypophysectomy results in significant morphological and biochemical changes in Leydig cells, and that hCG is capable of restoring some of these capacities within a short time.

Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 126, 367–375