Functional Communication between the Sertoli and Leydig Cells

  • Richard M. Sharpe
  • Focko F. G. Rommerts
Part of the Biochemical Endocrinology book series (BIOEND, volume 1)


All organs within the body are composed of cells of several different types which together perform the various functions of that organ. It is obvious that if the organ is to function normally, then the activities of the different cell types must be co-ordinated and the most logical way in which this could be achieved is by direct communication between the various cell types. In this context, the idea that the Sertoli cells should communicate with the Leydig cells within the testis is therefore far from unique, and yet this pathway has been all but ignored by the majority of workers engaged on research into testicular function. This neglect is all the more remarkable when it is considered that fertility is critically dependent on the link between Sertoli and Leydig cells, in that spermatogenesis is regulated by the Sertoli cell only under the driving influence of testosterone from the Leydig cells (Hansson et al., 1978; Ritzen et al., 1981). Because of this dependence it seems essential that the Sertoli cells should have some means of communicating with the Leydig cells to ensure the optimum supply of testos- terone for maintenance of spermatogenesis. This paper assesses the possible factors that might be involved in this communication and gives particular attention to the possibil- ity that the Sertoli cells may locally regulate testosterone production by the Leydig cells via secretion of a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)-like peptide.


Luteinizing Hormone Sertoli Cell Leydig Cell Interstitial Fluid Seminiferous Tubule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aoki, A., and Fawcett, D. W., 1978, Is there a local feedback from the seminiferous tubules affecting activity of the Leydig cells? Biol. Reprod. 19:144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bambino, T. H., Schreiber, J. R., and Hsueh, A. J. W., 1980, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone and its agonist inhibit testicular luteinizing hormone receptor and steroidogenesis in immature and adult hypophysectomized rats, Endocrinology 107:908.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergh, A., 1982, Local differences in Leydig cell morphology in the adult rat testis: evidence for a local control of Leydig cells by adjacent seminiferous tubules, Int. J. Androl. 5:325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourne, G. A., Regiani, S., Payne, A. H., and Marshall, J., 1980, Testicular GnRH receptors-characterization and localization on interstitial tissue, J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 51:407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, Y. D. I., Kelch, R. P., and Payne, A. H., 1976, FSH stimulation of Leydig cell function in the hypophysectom-ized immature rat, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 153:473.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Clayton, R. N., Katikineni, M., Chan, V., Dufau, M. L., and Catt, K. J., 1980, Direct inhibition of testicular function by GnRH-mediation by specific GnRH receptors in inter-stitial cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 77:4459.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clermont, Y., 1972, Kinetics of spermatogenesis in mammals: seminiferous epithelium cycle and spermatogonial renewal, Physiol. Rev. 52:198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooke, B. A., Magee-Brown, R., Golding, M., and Dix, C. J., 1981, The heterogeneity of Leydig cells from mouse and rat testes -evidence for a Leydig cell cycle? Int. J. Androl. 7:355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de Jong, F. H., Welschen, R., Hermans, W. P., Smith, S. D., and van der Molen, H. J., 1979, Effects of factors from ovarian follicular fluid and Sertoli cell culture medium on in vivo and in vitro release of pituitary gonadotropins in the rat: an evaluation of systems for the assay of inhibin, J. Reprod. Fert. Suppl. 26:47.Google Scholar
  10. de Kretser, D. M., Sharpe, R. M., and Swanston, I. A., 1979, Alterations in steroidogenesis and hCG binding in the cryptorchid rat testis, Endocrinology 105:135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DePhilip, R. M., Feldman, M., Spruill, W. A., French, F. S., and Kierszenbaum, A. L., 1982, The secretion of ABP and other proteins by rat Sertoli cells in culture: a structural and electrophoretic study, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 383:360.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dorrington, J. J., and Armstrong, D. T., 1975, FSH stimulates estradiol-17β synthesis in cultured Sertoli cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 72:2677.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dutlow, C. M., and Millar, R. P., 1981, Rat testis immunoreactive LHRH differs structurally from hypothalamic LHRH, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 101:489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grotjan, H. E. Jr., and Heindel, J. J., 1982, Effect of spent media from Sertoli cell cultures on in vitro testosterone production by rat testicular interstitial cells, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 383:456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hagenas, L., and Ritzen, E. M., 1976, Impaired Sertoli cell function in experimental cryptorchidism, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 4:25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hansson, V., Purvis, K., Ritzen, E. M., and French, F. S., 1978, Hormonal regulation of Sertoli cell function in the rat, Ann. Biol. Anim. Biochem. Biophys. 18(2B):565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hsueh, A. J. W., and Erickson, G. F., 1979, Extra-pituitary inhibition of testicular function by LHRH, Nature 281:66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hsueh, A. J. W., and Jones, P. B. C., 1981, Extrapituitary actions of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Endocrinol. Rev. 2:437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hsueh, A. J. W., Schreiber, J. R., and Erickson, G. F., 1981, Inhibitory effect of GnRH upon cultured testicular cells, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 21:43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hunter, M. G., Sullivan, M. H. F., Dix, C. J., Aldred, L. F., and Cooke, B. A., 1982, Stimulation and inhibition by LHRH analogues of cultured rat Leydig cell function and lack of effect on mouse Leydig cells, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 27:31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kerr, J. B., Rich, K. A., and de Kretser, D. M., 1979a, Effects of experimental cryptorchidism on the ultrastructure and function of the Sertoli cells and peritubular tissue of the rat testis, Biol. Reprod. 21:823.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kerr, J. B., Rich, K. A., and de Kretser, D. M., 1979b, Altera-tions of the fine structure and androgen secretion of the interstitial cells in the experimentally cryptorchid rat testis, Biol. Reprod. 20:409.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Means, A. R., Fakunding, J. L., Huckins, C., Tindall, D. J., and Vitale, R., 1976, FSH, the Sertoli cell and spermatogenesis, Recent Prog. Horm. Res. 32:477.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Nozu, K., Dehejia, A., Zawistowich, L., Catt, K. J., and Dufau, M. L., 1982, Gonadotropin-induced desensitization of Leydig cells in vivo and in vitro: estrogen action in the testis, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 383:212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Odell, W. D., Swerdloff, R. S., Jacobs, H. S., and Hescox, M. A., 1973, FSH induction of sensitivity to LH: one cause of sexual maturation in the male rat, Endocrinology 92:160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Parvinen, M., and Ruokonen, A., 1982, Endogenous steroids in rat seminiferous tubules. Comparison of different spermatogenic stages isolated by transillumination-assisted microdissection, J. Androl. (in press).Google Scholar
  27. Pomerantz, D. K., 1979, Effects of in vivo gonadotropin treat-ment on estrogen levels in the testis of the immature rat, Biol. Reprod. 21:1247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rich, K. A., Kerr, J. B., and de Kretser, D. M., 1979, Evidence for Leydig cell dysfunction in rats with seminiferous tubule damage, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 13:123.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ritzen, E. M., Hansson, V., and French, F. S., 1981, The Sertoli cell, in: “The Testis”, H. Burger and D. M. de Kretser, eds., p. 171, Raven Press, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Ritzen, E. M., Boitani, C., Parvinen, M., French, F. S., and Feldman, M., 1982, Stage-dependent secretion of ABP by rat seminiferous tubules, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 25:25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Risbridger, G. P., Kerr, J. B., Peake, R. A., Rich, K. A., and de Kretser, D. M., 1981a, Temporal changes in Leydig cell function after the induction of bilateral cryptorchidism, J. Reprod. Fert. 63:415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Risbridger, G. P., Kerr, J. B., and de Kretser, D. M., 1981b, Evaluation of Leydig cell function and gonadotropin binding in unilateral and bilateral cryptorchidism: evidence for local control of Leydig cell function by the seminiferous tubule, Biol. Reprod. 24:534.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Risbridger, G. P., Kerr, J. B., Peake, R. A., and de Kretser, D. M., 1981C., An assessment of Leydig cell function after bilateral or unilateral efferent duct ligation: further evidence for local control of Leydig cell function, Endocrinology, 109:1234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rommerts, F. F. G., de Jong, F. H., Brinkman, A. O., and van der Molen, H. J., 1982, Development and cellular localization of rat testicular aromatase activity, J. Reprod. Fert. 65:281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rommerts, F. F. G., Kruger-Sewnarain, B. Ch., van Woerkom-Blik, A., Grootegoed, J. A., and van der Molen, H. J., 1978, Secretion of proteins by Sertoli cell enriched cultures: effects of FSH, dibutyryl cyclic AMP and testosterone and correlation with secretion of oestradiol and ABP, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 10:39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Setchell, B. P., and Sharpe, R. M., 1981, Effect of injected hCG on capillary permeability, extracellular fluid volume and the flow of lymph and blood in the testes of rats, J. Endocrinol. 91:245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sharpe, R. M., 1982a, The hormonal regulation of the Leydig cell, in: “Oxford Reviews in Reproductive Biology”, C. A. Finn, ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford (in press).Google Scholar
  38. Sharpe, R. M., 1982b, Cellular aspects of the inhibitory actions of LHRH on the ovary and testis, J. Reprod. Fert. 64:517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sharpe, R. M., and Cooper, I., 1982, Stimulatory effect of LHRH and its agonists on Leydig cell steroidogenesis in vitro, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 26:141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sharpe, R. M., and Fraser, H. M., 1980a, Leydig cell recep-tors for LHRH and its agonists and their modulation by administration or deprivation of the releasing hormone, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 95:256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sharpe, R. M., and Fraser, H. M., 1980b, hCG stimulation of testicular LHRH-like activity, Nature 287:642.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sharpe, R. M., Fraser, H. M., Cooper, I., and Rommerts, F. F. G. 1981, Sertoli-Leydig cell communication via an LHRH-like factor, Nature 290:785.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sharpe, R. M., Doogan, D. G., and Cooper, I., 1982a, Stimula-tion of Leydig cell testosterone secretion in vitro and in vivo in hypophysectomized rats by an agonist of LHRH, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 106:1210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sharpe, R. M., Fraser, H. M., Cooper, I., and Rommerts, F. F. G. 1982b, The secretion, measurement and function of a testicular LHRH-like factor, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 383:272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Steinberger, E., 1971, Hormonal control of mammalian spermatogenesis, Physiol. Rev. 51:1.Google Scholar
  46. van Beurden, W. M. O., Roodnat, B., de Jong, F. H., Mulder, E., and van der Molen, H. J., 1976, Hormonal regulation of LH stimulation of testosterone production in isolated Leydig cells of immature rats: the effects of hypophysectomy, FSH and estradiol-l7β, Steroids 28:847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Sharpe
    • 1
  • Focko F. G. Rommerts
    • 2
  1. 1.MRC Reproductive Biology UnitCentre for Reproductive BiologyEdinburghScotland, UK
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations