To understand gonadal tumor development, we have previously created a mouse model in which mice deficient in the inhibins develop gonadal sex cord- stromal tumors with essentially 100% penetrance. These tumors develop as early as 4 weeks of age and cause cancer cachexia-like symptoms and subsequent death in the inhibin-deficient mice. Gonadectomized inhibin- deficient mice eventually develop adrenal cortical tumors with nearly 100% penetrance. These studies have identified inhibin as a novel secreted tumor suppressor protein with specificity for the gonads and adrenal glands. Sex steroids have been implicated to influence gonadal tumor development in humans and mice. To determine the role of androgens in gonadal tumorigenesis in inhibin-deficient male mice, we have used a genetic intercross strategy, breeding inhibin α mutant mice with tfm (testicular feminization, a naturally occurring androgen receptor mutant) carrying females to eventually generate compound mutant male mice that lack inhibins and carry the tfm mutation. These compound mutant mice, like inhibin-deficient mice, continue to develop testicular tumors and the accompanying cancer cachexia-like wasting syndrome. Consistent with these findings, elevated levels of activins A and B secreted from the gonadal tumors are seen in the adult compound mutant mice as well as the secondary pathological consequences of these high activin levels in the livers and glandular stomachs. However, in contrast to male mice lacking only inhibin, in which essentially 100% of the testicular tumors are hemorrhagic, 65% of the tumors in these compound mutant male mice are less hemorrhagic, and approximately 50% of the compound mutants live longer than 17 weeks of age (95% of the male mice lacking only inhibin die by 12 weeks). These results suggest that androgens are nor required for testicular tumor development in inhibin-deficient mice, but may play a regulatory role in testicular tumor progression.
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