The inhibitory effects of lead on steroidogenesis in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells

Ming Yie Liu, Hung Yan Lai, Bei Chang Yang, Mei Lin Tsai, Hsi Yuan Yang, Bu Miin Huang

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Lead is an environmental and occupational pollutant. It has been reported that lead affects the male reproductive system in humans and animals. However, the cellular mechanism of the adverse effect of lead on Leydig cell steroidogenesis remains unknown. To clarify whether lead has a direct effect on Leydig cells and how lead affects Leydig cells, MA-10 cells, a mouse Leydig tumor cell line, were exploited in this study. Lead acetate significantly inhibited hCG- and dbcAMP-stimulated progesterone production in MA-10 cells at 2 h. Steroid production stimulated by hCG or dbcAMP were reduced by lead. The mechanism of lead in reducing MA-10 cell steroidogenesis was further investigated. The expression of Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory (StAR) protein and the activities of P450 side-chain cleavage (P450scc) and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) enzymes were detected. Cells were treated with dbcAMP, 22R-hydroxycholesterol or pregnenolone alone or in combination with lead acetate ranging from 10-8 to 10-5 M for 2 h. The expression of StAR protein stimulated by dbcAMP was suppressed by lead at about 50%. Progesterone productions treated with 22R-hydroxycholesterol or pregnenolone were reduced 30-40% in lead-treated MA-10 cells. These data suggest that lead directly inhibited steroidogenesis by decreasing StAR protein expression and the activities of P450scc and 3β-HSD enzymes with a dose-response trend in MA-10 cells. Moreover, cadmium, a calcium channel blocker, abolished inhibitory effect of lead on MA-10 cell steroid production. This indicates that lead might act on calcium channel to regulate MA-10 cell steroidogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-859
Number of pages11
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jan 12

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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