The role of cytokines in the regulation of Leydig cell P450c17 gene expression

Dale B. Hales, Yuting Xiong, Ilan Tur-Kaspa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Cytokines produced by immune-activated testicular interstitial macrophages (TIMs) may play a fundamental role in the local control mechanisms of testosterone biosynthesis in Leydig cells. We investigated whether in vivo immune-activation of TIMs can modulate Leydig cell steroidogenesis. To immune activate TIMs in vivo, mice were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 6 mg/kg). TIMs and Leydig cells were purified for RNA analysis. LPS treatment resulted in a 47-fold increase in interleukin-1β (IL-1β) mRNA in TIMs. P450c17 mRNA levels in the Leydig cells from the same animals, decreased to less than 10% compared to control. The effect of LPS on IL-1β and P450c17 mRNA levels was reversible on both TIMs and Leydig cells, respectively. To determine if the effect of LPS on P450c17 was mediated by a possible decrease in pituitary LH secretion, mice were co-injected with LPS and hCG. Treatment with hCG did not change the effect observed with LPS alone, in TIMs or in Leydig cells. In vitro, LPS treatment of TIMs resulted in marked induction of IL-1β mRNA expression. In parallel, in vitro treatment of Leydig cells with recombinant IL-1 resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of P450c17 mRNA expression and testosterone production. These data demonstrate that LPS treatment, in vivo and in vitro, induced IL-1 gene expression in TIMs, and that IL-1 inhibits P450c17 mRNA in vitro. Therefore, we suggest that immune-activation of TIMs might have caused the observed inhibition of P450c17 gene expression in Leydig cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-914
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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