Although gonadotropins and androgen are required for normal spermatogenesis and both testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are responsible for the inhibition of spermatogonial differentiation that occurs in irradiated rats, it has been difficult to identify the specific genes involved. To study specific hormonally regulated changes in somatic cell gene expression in the testis that may be involved in these processes, without the complication of changing populations of germ cells, we used irradiated LBNF1 rats, the testes of which contain almost exclusively somatic cells except for a few type A spermatogonia. Three different groups of these rats were treated with various combinations of gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist, an androgen receptor antagonist (flutamide), testosterone, and FSH, and we compared the gene expression levels 2 wk later to those of irradiated-only rats by microarray analysis. By dividing the gene expression patterns into three major patterns and 11 subpatterns, we successfully distinguished, in a single study, the genes that were specifically regulated by testosterone, by luteinizing hormone (LH), and by FSH from the large number of genes that were not hormonally regulated in the testis. We found that hormones produced more dramatic upregulation than downregulation of gene expression: Testosterone had the strongest upregulatory effect, LH had a modest but appreciable upregulatory effect, and FSH had a minor upregulatory effect. We also separately identified the somatic cell genes that were chronically upregulated by irradiation. Thus, the present study identified gene expression changes that may be responsible for hormonal action on somatic cells to support normal spermatogenesis and the hormone-mediated block in spermatogonial development after irradiation.
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Vol. 82 • No. 1