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Testes from 47 adult (4-20 years) stallions obtained in November-January (non-breeding season) and 41 adult stallions obtained in May-July (breeding season) were perfused with glutaraldehyde, placed in osmium and embedded in Epon 812. Percentage Leydig cell cytoplasm or nuclei in the testis was determined by point counting of 0.5 μm sections under bright-field microscopy. Testes from 6 randomly selected horses per season were processed for electron microscopy. The volume (ml) of SER/testis was calculated from the % SER in the cytoplasm % Leydig cell cytoplasm, and parenchymal volume. Number of Leydig cells was calculated from the % nuclei, parenchymal volume, histological correction factor, and volume of single nucleus. Intratesticular testosterone content was determined from the contralateral testis by radioimmunoassay. The volume of SER/g and testosterone/g tended to be higher in the breeding than non-breeding season. Leydig cell number/g, volume of SER/testis, testosterone/testis, and Leydig cell number/testis were significantly greater in the breeding than in the non-breeding season. Volume of SER/testis and testosterone/testis were related significantly to the cell number/testis, and SER/testis was related (P < 0.05) to testosterone/testis. These results emphasize the importance of seasonal changes in the number of Leydig cells on the amount of SER available to produce testosterone and on testosterone content/testis in the stallion.

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Journal of Reproduction and Fertility

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