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Prepubertal nutrition alters Leydig cell functional capacity and timing of puberty

Anand-Ivell, Ravinder; Byrne, Colin J.; Arnecke, Jonas; Fair, Sean; Lonergan, Pat; Kenny, David A.; Richard, Ivell


Colin J. Byrne

Jonas Arnecke

Sean Fair

Pat Lonergan

David A. Kenny

Ivell Richard


Leydig cell functional capacity reflects the numbers and differentiation status of the steroidogenic Leydig cells in the testes and becomes more or less fixed in early adulthood with the final establishment of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis after puberty. Factors influencing Leydig cell functional capacity and its role in puberty are poorly understood. Using a bovine model of dairy bulls fed four different nutritional regimes from 1 month to 12 months, and applying circulating Insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) as an accurate biomarker of Leydig cell functional capacity, showed that a high plane of nutrition in the first 6 months of life, but not later, significantly increased INSL3 in young adulthood. Moreover, INSL3 concentration at 4 months indicated a marked differential in early feeding regime and correlated well (negatively) with the timing of puberty, as reflected by the age in days for the first production of an ejaculate with >50 million sperm and >10% forward motility, as well as with testis size at 18 months. Reversing the diet at 6 months was unable to rectify the trend in either parameter, unlike for other parameters such as testosterone, body weight, and scrotal circumference. This study has shown that early prepubertal nutrition is a key factor in the development of Leydig cell functional capacity in early adulthood and appears to be a key driver in the dynamic progression of puberty.


Anand-Ivell, R., Byrne, C. J., Arnecke, J., Fair, S., Lonergan, P., Kenny, D. A., & Richard, I. (2019). Prepubertal nutrition alters Leydig cell functional capacity and timing of puberty. PLoS ONE, 14(11),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2019
Publication Date Nov 21, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 22, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 25, 2019
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 11
Article Number e0225465
Keywords Nutrition, Puberty, Testis, Male, Leydig cells, INSL3, Biomarker
Public URL
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