Clinical and experimental studies are described on the effects of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist (A) and antagonist (Ant.) on testicular endocrine function. Testicular effects of long-term gonadotropin suppression by GnRH-A were assessed during treatment of prostatic cancer patients. The testis tissue removed after 6 months of A treatment had less than 5% of the testosterone(T)-producing capacity in comparison to testis tissue removed from untreated control patients. However, the LH receptors (R) and responsiveness of T output to LH stimulation in vitro were unchanged. FSH-R decreased by 70%. Hence, despite suppression of gonadotropins and testicular androgen production during long-term GnRH-A treatment the responsiveness to exogenous gonadotropins is maintained. The testicular effects of a gonadotropin suppression induced with GnRH-Ant. and testicular GnRH-R blockade were studied in rats. Besides decreases of gonadotropins and testicular T, systemic Ant. treatment decreased testicular Prl-R, but had no effect on LH-R or FSH-R. Bromocriptine-induced hypoprolactinemia, in contrast, decreased LH-R but had no effect on Prl-R. The results indicate reciprocal regulation of LH-R and Prl-R, and that testicular steroidogenesis and LH-R are under differential regulation, the former by LH, the latter by Prl. In another study, testicular GnRH-R, and consequently the action of a putative testicular GnRH-like factor, were blocked by unilateral intratesticular infusion of Ant. (1 week, Alzet osmotic pumps). The treatment resulted in 90% occupancy of testicular GnRH-R in the Ant.-infused testes, and this was associated with decreased levels of R for LH, FSH and Prl, and of T. The results indicated that the testicular GnRH-R have a physiological function in subtle stimulation of Leydig cell functions.
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