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Hans-Joachim Born, Petra Hörster-Poschmann, Wilfried Stoll, Jürgen Sandow, Hans-Dieter Taubert and Herbert Kuhl

Abstract. The combination of androgens and progestogens has been shown to be a suitable male contraceptive. Previous experiments revealed that injection of a dimeric testosterone-ethynodiol ester into rats and monkeys induces azoospermia for several weeks. In order to investigate the mechanism of action, we compared the endocrine effects of a single injection of 10 mg of the dimeric ester into intact male rats with that of 6 mg of norethisterone enanthate + 6 mg of testosterone enanthate. After the injection of the dimer there was a transitory reduction of serum FSH and a strong suppression of serum LH and testosterone, of testicular testosterone and of androgen-binding protein (ABP) in the testis and epididymis for at least 8 weeks, whereas spermatogenesis was totally depressed between the 4th and 8th week. Contrary to this, the enanthates caused only a slight suppression of spermatogenesis, although serum LH, testicular testosterone and ABP were profoundly reduced. The only conspicuous difference in the endocrine pattern of both groups during the first 4 weeks was in the serum testosterone level which remained normal in the rats treated with the enanthates. The results suggest that testicular testosterone and ABP concentrations are of minor significance for an intact spermatogenesis, and that some other factors produced by Sertoli cells might be involved and possibly maintained by normal serum testosterone levels.