Early prenatal androgen exposure reduces testes size and sperm concentration in sheep without altering neuroendocrine differentiation and masculine sexual behavior

C. M. Scully, C. T. Estill, R. Amodei, A. McKune, K. P. Gribbin, M. Meaker, F. Stormshak, Charles Roselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prenatal androgens are largely responsible for growth and differentiation of the genital tract and testis and for organization of the control mechanisms regulating male reproductive physiology and behavior. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of inappropriate exposure to excess testosterone (T) during the first trimester of fetal development on the reproductive function, sexual behavior, and fertility potential of rams. We found that biweekly maternal T propionate (100 mg) treatment administered from Day 30–58 of gestation significantly decreased (P < 0.05) postpubertal scrotal circumference and sperm concentration. Prenatal T exposure did not alter ejaculate volume, sperm motility and morphology or testis morphology. There was, however, a trend for more T-exposed rams than controls to be classified as unsatisfactory potential breeders during breeding soundness examinations. Postnatal serum T concentrations were not affected by prenatal T exposure, nor was the expression of key testicular genes essential for spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis. Basal serum LH did not differ between treatment groups, nor did pituitary responsiveness to GnRH. T-exposed rams, like control males, exhibited vigorous libido and were sexually attracted to estrous females. In summary, these results suggest that exposure to exogenous T during the first trimester of gestation can negatively impact spermatogenesis and compromise the reproductive fitness of rams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Developmental programming
  • Gestational hyperandrogenism
  • Male reproduction
  • Ovine
  • Sexual behavior
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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