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The effects of treatment with melatonin on the ultrastructure of mouse leydig cells: a quantitative study

Efeito do tratamento com melatonina sobre a ultra-estrutura das células de Leydig do camundongo: estudo quantitativo

C. A. REDINS G. M. REDINS J. C. NOVAES About the authors

Both the presence of receptors for gonadal steroids in the pineal gland and in vitro observations of direct action of melatonin upon Leydig cells, inhibiting testosterone secretion, indicate a direct connection between pineal gland and gonadal function. In the present study, we used a transmission electron microscope to analyze the morphologic parameters of Leydig cells from adult Swiss outbred white mice treated with daily subcutaneous injections of 100 µg of melatonin (N-acetyl, 5-methoxytryptamine), during 22 consecutive days, compared with sham-control animals which had only received the melatonin vehicle. The melatonin group of mice showed a decrease in nuclear volume and fractional nuclear volume; smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum; mitochondria; and Golgi complex. Our data also showed an increase in cytoplasmic volume, fractional cytoplasmic volume, and lysosomes in these same animals. The results suggest that melatonin, directly or indirectly, alters the ultrastructure of mouse Leydig cells and possibly influences their secretory activity by inhibiting their capacity to secrete steroids.

Leydig cell; melatonin; ultrastructure; testis; reproduction

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