Recently, it has been shown that nitric oxide may inhibit the Leydig cell steroidogenesis. The present paper describes, by means of NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry, the ultrastructural localization of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase in the Leydig cells of young adult and aging mice. In the young adult mice, the enzymatic reaction was mainly located in the mitochondria and in some clustered cisterna: of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum. The nuclear envelope was faintly labeled. In the aging mice, most Leydig cells showed an enhanced enzymatic reaction. Labeled mitochondria were increased in number, and labeled areas of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum were more numerous and extended. In addition, a strong enzymatic reaction was recognized in the nuclear envelope. We conjecture that the impaired steroidogenesis observed in the testis of aging mammals might, at least in part, depend on the increased nitric oxide production in the Leydig cells.
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