A study on the 3β- and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activities in the gonads of Monopterus albus (Pisces: Teleostei) at various sexual phases during natural sex reversal



Activities of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) in Monopterus gonads were studied at different sexual phases during natural sex reversal. Before sexual transformation, positive reactions for 3β-HSD in the follicular epithelium were found in the granulosa cells of some large, maturing follicles in some females during the breeding season. Weak reaction for this enzyme was also detected in some scattered interstitial cells found occasionally in some ovaries. At the intersexual and the male phases, intense 3β-HSD activities were demonstrated exclusively in the interstitial Leydig cells. No 17β-HSD activities were observable in the gonads at any stage of development. The reaction intensity of 3β-HSD in the interstitial cells exhibited a marked increase during the process of sex change from female to the intersexual and the male phases and there is a definite correlation with the density and nuclear size of these cells. It is concluded that in Monopterus, the granulosa cells in the ovary and the interstitial cells of the intersexual and male gonads are the major sites for the biosynthesis of oestrogens and androgens, respectively, and that the intensive development of interstitial tissue with increasing steroidogenic enzyme activities at the intersexual and male phases was directly related to the increase in androgen production in vitro reported previously. The occasional presence of some 3β-HSD positive interstitial cells in the ovary suggests that interstitial cell development might precede testicular lobule formation during natural sex reversal.