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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Reproductive and Hormonal Functions of the Male (and Function of the Pineal Gland)

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Testicular Tumors and Hypergonadism in the Male

Interstitial Leydig cell tumors develop in rare instancesin the testes, but when they do develop, they sometimes produce as much as 100 times the normal quantities of testosterone.

Testicular Tumors and Hypergonadism in the Male

Interstitial Leydig cell tumors develop in rare instancesin the testes, but when they do develop, they sometimes produce as much as 100 times the normal quantities of testosterone. When such tumors develop in young chil-dren, they cause rapid growth of the musculature and bones but also cause early uniting of the epiphyses, so that the eventual adult height actually is considerably less than that which would have been achieved other-wise. Such interstitial cell tumors also cause excessive development of the male sexual organs, all skeletal muscles, and other male sexual characteristics. In the adult male, small interstitial cell tumors are difficult to diagnose because masculine features are already present.

Much more common than the interstitial Leydig cell tumors are tumors of the germinal epithelium. Because germinal cells are capable of differentiating into almost any type of cell, many of these tumors contain multiple tissues, such as placental tissue, hair, teeth, bone, skin, and so forth, all found together in the same tumorous mass called a teratoma. These tumors often secrete few hormones, but if a significant quantity of placental tissue develops in the tumor, it may secrete large quantities of hCG with functions similar to those of LH. Also, estrogenic hormones are sometimes secreted by these tumors and cause the condition called gynecomastia (overgrowth of the breasts).


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