Effect of photoperiod on the size of the Leydig cell population and the rate of recruitment of Leydig cells in adult Syrian hamsters.
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The number of Leydig cells was determined by stereologic procedures in adult Syrian hamsters housed in long days (14L:10D) to maintain testicular activity (active), in short days (5L:19D) for 12-13 wk to induce testicular regression (photoperiod-induced regressed), or in short days for a period of 21 wk or more to allow spontaneous gonadal recrudescence (spontaneously recrudesced). Testes were removed, sliced, fixed, embedded in Epon 812, and observed by bright-field microscopy. Testicular and seminal vesicle weights, plasma testosterone concentration, total Leydig cell volume per testis, and volume of single Leydig cell were greater (p less than 0.01) in active and recrudesced animals than in regressed animals. The density of Leydig cells was greater in the regressed testes, but the total number per testis was not influenced by photoperiod. In Experiment 2, the rate of recruitment of Leydig cells was determined in 5 adult hamsters exposed to long days (active) or 5 hamsters whose testes were regressed by exposure of animals to short days for 13 wk followed by long-day exposure to initiate testicular growth (photoperiod-induced recrudescing). Hamsters were injected for 3 days/wk for 3 wk with tritiated thymidine, 0.5 or 1 microCi/g body weight. Testes were fixed and tissues prepared, as above, and processed for autoradiography. Again, the photoperiod did not influence the number of Leydig cells per testis. Labeling of Leydig cell nuclei revealed that recruitment of new Leydig cells occurred at approximately 1.3% per day in recrudescing testes but also occurred at approximately 0.6% per day in active testes. Without change in the total number of Leydig cells, new Leydig cells were added continually to the existing population in adult hamsters with either recrudescing or active testes.