Androgen binding protein (ABP) was measured during postnatal development in normal and irradiated rats to determine whether development of a blood-testis barrier and formation of a continuous lumen from testis to epididymis is correlated with entry of ABP into the caput epididymis. ABP is found in normal testis as early as 14 days postnatally (0.2 pmol/mg), at which time no blood-testis barrier is observed by the peroxidase perfusion technique. Previous findings have shown a close correlation of blood-testis barrier development and lumen formation. Indeed, ABP is not detectable in the epididymis until 18–20 days of age (1.0 pmol/mg) at which time blood-testis barrier formation and lumen development is complete. Whole body irradiation (125 rads) of pregnant rats at 19–20 days of gestation produces male offspring with seminiferous tubules remarkably free of germinal epithelium and containing essentially only Sertoli cells. These Sertoli cell-enriched (SCE) testes produce normal amounts of ABP between 14 and 21 days postnatally. However, between 21 and 30 days of age the specific activity of ABP is significantly higher in the SCE testes (2.8 pmol/mg protein) than in normal testis (0.5 pmol/mg protein). In the SCE testis neither blood-testis barrier development nor lumen formation are complete until 30 days of age, at which time ABP is first detectable in epididymis of the irradiated rat. Thereafter there is a gradual decline of ABP in the SCE testis and a dramatic increase in the epididymis. NIH-FSH-S-10 (200 μg/rat) injected SC into 14-day-old normal rats stimulates ABP in the testis from control levels of 0.15 pmol/mg to 1.46 pmol/mg within 4 h after injection. However, no ABP was detectable in the epididymis of either the control or the FSH-stimulated rats. These findings suggest that entry of ABP into caput epididymis is an index of bloodtestis barrier formation and lumen development.
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