Testosterone application decreases the capacity for ACTH and corticosterone secretion in a rat model of the andropause
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The culminating phase of ageing in males-andropause is characterized by enhanced activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and frequent glucocorticoid excess. In parallel, free testosterone deficiency provides the baseline hormonal milieu for the ageing male. The aim of this study was to illustrate (using diverse microscopic and biochemical methodologies) the effects of testosterone application on the capacity for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone secretion in a rat model of the andropause. Middle-aged Wistar rats were divided into sham-operated (SO; n = 8), orchidectomized (Orx; n = 8) and testosterone treated orchidectomized (Orx +T; n = 8) groups. Testosterone propionate (5 mg/kg b.w./day) was administered for three weeks, while SO and Orx groups received the vehicle alone. ACTH cells and the adrenal cortex were stained using immuno-histochemical, immuno-fluorescent and histochemical procedures. Circulating concentrations of testosterone, estradiol, ACTH and corticosterone, as well as the adrenal tissue corticosterone levels were measured by immunoassays. Testosterone application led to increased (p < 0.05) serum concentrations of sex steroids. Consequently, in Orx+T rats the ACTH cell nuclei volume increased (p < 0.05) by 34\%, while the volume density of ACTH cells and their relative intensity of fluorescence decreased (p < 0.05) by 46\% and 21\%, respectively, in comparison with the corresponding parameters in the Orx group. Testosterone also induced vasodilatation in the adrenocortical zona fasciculata, and decreased (p < 0.05) the ACTH concentrations and adrenal tissue corticosterone levels by 38\% and 31\%, respectively, compared to the Orx group. In conclusion, testosterone administration caused a decrease in the capacity for ACTH and corticosterone secretion in a rat model of the andropause. (C) 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.