IGF-I mRNA has been demonstrated in testicular tissue and, more recently, localized specifically to Leydig cells. This study investigated the expression of IGF-I and side-chain cleavage enzyme (SCC) mRNA in two preparations of rat interstitial testicular cells which were separated by buoyant density into Leydig cell-enriched and -depleted fractions. RNA was prepared from interstitial cells obtained from the testes of untreated adult and immature rats and adult rats treated with human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or ethane dimethanesulphonate (EDS; to destroy Leydig cells). IGF-I mRNA was detected in all samples, with five major transcripts ranging from 7·5 to 0·6 kb. Leydig cells (3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-positive and sensitive to EDS) expressed abundant IGF-I and SCC mRNAs, and levels of both were increased following hCG treatment. However, in addition, IGF-I mRNA which was derived from non-Leydig interstitial cells was detected, in the complete absence of SCC message, either in the more buoyant interstitial cells or in both interstitial cell fractions following the destruction of Leydig cells by EDS treatment. IGF-I expression in the Leydig cell-depleted cell fraction was also increased by hCG treatment, and it is therefore suggested that at least part of this non-Leydig interstitial cell IGF-I mRNA originates in Leydig cell precursors. In conclusion, Leydig cells are not the sole origin of IGF-I mRNA in the testis, and the non-Leydig cell expression may be an important component of testicular IGF-I production.
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