Lead can directly influence Leydig cell steroidogenesis, which results in reduction of testosterone and causes low sperm counts in human beings and animals. This study investigated the effect of 6 h incubation time of lead on steroidogenesis in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells. Lead acetate, ranging from 10-8 to 10-5 M, caused profounder inhibitory effects on human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)- and dibutyryl cAMP (dbcAMP)-stimulated progesterone production for 6 h in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells. Lead acetate significantly inhibited hCG- and dbcAMP-stimulated progesterone production from 20 to 35% in MA-10 cells at 6 h. Lead suppressed the expression of steroidogenesis acute regulatory (STAR) protein from 30 to 55%. Moreover, the activities P450 side-chain cleavage (P450scc) enzyme and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) were reduced by lead from 15 to 25%. Thus, after 6h exposure to lead caused profounder inhibitory effects on StAR protein expression and steroidogenic enzymes and then progesterone production compared to 2- or 3-h lead treatments in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells.
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