To investigate the possibility of in vivo transplantation of Leydig cells as a new biologic androgen replacement therapy, the Leydig cells procured from 6 week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were autotransplanted, and the level of testosterone secretion and histostructural changes were observed. The renal subcapsular and intraperitoneal transplant showed higher levels of testosterone compared to subcutaneous or scrotal counterparts, and the number of transplanted cells was correlated with the level of measured testosterone. Furthermore, if the Leydig cells were transplanted intraperitoneally after the uptake on synthetic collagen, testosterone levels were higher than the ones simply transplanted without synthetic collagen uptake, resulting in 27 fold increase at 3 months. The activity of 125I-hCG decreased 20 to 40% at each month after transplantation compared to the normal levels, but no statistical significance was noted among different periods. The histologic examination revealed neovascularized capillaries and well demarcated sheet-like group of eosinophilic Leydig cells were observed at 4 weeks. But the evidence of destructive changes such as a focal inflammation with central dystropic ossification could be noted after 3 month. On electron microscopy, the marked indentation of nucleus and presence of lipochrome pigment were seen, and the number and size of smooth endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria were reduced after 3 month. In conclusion, testosterone output could be increased to the physiologic range by increasing the number of transplant cells or utilizing collagen uptake but further effort is necessary on delaying or preventing the structural and functional decrement of Leydig cells.
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