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Endocrinology. 2000 May;141(5):1735-45.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs stimulate and testosterone inhibits the recovery of spermatogenesis in irradiated rats.

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Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


We investigated the effects of GnRH analogs, different doses of testosterone (T), an androgen receptor antagonist (flutamide), and combinations of these on the recovery of spermatogenesis after irradiation. Treatment with a GnRH agonist (Lupron) for 10 weeks after irradiation reduced the intratesticular T concentration (ITT) to 4% of that in irradiated rats and serum FSH to undetectable levels without altering serum LH levels. Injection of a GnRH antagonist (Cetrorelix) at 3 weeks after irradiation suppressed LH, FSH, and ITT to <7%, 32%, and 10%, respectively, of levels in irradiated-only rats within 2 weeks; suppression was maintained for approximately 3 to 4 weeks. The percentage of tubules with differentiated germ cells (repopulation index, RI) was <0.6% at weeks 10 to 20 after irradiation. Spermatogenic recovery was induced by both the GnRH agonist (RI = 58% at week 10; 91% at week 20) and antagonist (RI = 70% at week 13). There was a dose-dependent suppression of testicular germ cell repopulation when T was combined with GnRH analogs. The ability of T to abolish the spermatogenic stimulatory effect of the GnRH antagonist was evident by the similar RI obtained for irradiated rats given antagonist + T or T alone. This suppression of GnRH-induced recovery of spermatogenesis by T could be reversed by flutamide. The RI best correlated with the degree of ITT suppression. In ITT-suppressed rats, the RI also showed an inverse correlation with serum T levels. Thus, T and/or its androgenic metabolites either directly or indirectly inhibit spermatogenic recovery after irradiation through an androgen receptor-mediated process. In addition, there was a close negative correlation between RI and FSH levels, and hence, a spermatogenic inhibitory role for FSH in the irradiated rats cannot be ruled out.

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