β-Endorphin is believed to be synthesized in testicular Leydig cells. To gain more information about the role of this and other endogenous opioid peptides in the testis, opiate antagonists (naloxone and nalmefene, 100 µg/testis) were administered intratesticularly to hemicastrated adult rats. Leydig cell function was evaluated by measurement of serum testosterone and testosterone production in vitro. Estimation of androgen binding protein (rABP) was used as an index of Sertoli cell function. Serum testosterone was reduced significantly by intratesticular administration of naloxorie and nalmefene in treated animals. Systemic administration of these antagonists had no effect at the doses used. Testes from treated animals incubated in vitro with or without hCG produced significantly less testosterone than vehicle-treated control testes. Hemicastration reduced rABP synthesis and secretion; however, treatment with opiate antagonists did not alter the amount of this protein in the serum or epididymides of these rats. These observations suggest that endogenous testicular opiates modulate testosterone secretion by Leydig cells.
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