Steroid hormone alterations following induction of chronic intraperitoneal sepsis in male rats

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The influence of sepsis on male reproductive function in chronic animal models has not been extensively investigated. On the basis of earlier clinical studies, it was hypothesized that chronic intraperitoneal (i.p.) sepsis in rats would modulate the circulating levels of steroid reproductive hormones. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (300-375 g) were randomized to septic and nonseptic groups. Sepsis was induced with cecal slurry (200 mg/kg/5 mL 5% dextrose in water (D 5W); i.p.) in septic rats, while nonseptic rats received only sterile D 5W. The rats (n = 8-12) were catheterized to measure systemic hemodynamics and to collect blood at 0, 12, 24, and 48 h after induction of sepsis/sham sepsis. A separate group of normal rats was included to serve as an unoperated control group. The plasma concentration of corticosterone, progesterone, and testosterone in serum was determined using radioimmunoassay. The heart rate was significantly increased at t = 12, 24, and 48 h following induction of sepsis. However, septic rats did not display any significant alterations in the mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure. Basal circulating concentrations of serum corticosterone, progesterone, and testosterone were 356 ± 124 ng/mL, 2.37 ± 1.03 ng/mL, and 1:88 ± .29 ng/mL, respectively, in the unoperated rats. At t = 0 h there was a significant increase in the levels of corticosterone in septic rats and in the levels of progesterone in both septic and nonseptic rats. The elevations in the concentrations of corticosterone and progesterone returned to basal values after 24 and 48 h. The septic animals had significantly decreased levels of testosterone at t = 24 and 48 h as compared with basal values and nonseptic groups. Our model of sepsis produced a time-dependent decrease in levels of testosterone, an end product of male steroidogenesis. This, along with unchanged levels of corticosterone and progesterone at 24 and 48 h following sepsis, indicates that separate mechanisms for steroidogenesis regulating synthesis of these steroid hormones (progesterone and testosterone) occur with sepsis. It is concluded that in our chronic septic rat model, induction of i.p. sepsis produced dysfunction in steroidogenesis, which selectively affected the synthesis of testosterone.

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This article was published in Shock, Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 150-154.

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