Hypokalemia decreases testosterone production in male mice by altering luteinizing hormone secretion

Endocrinology. 1996 Sep;137(9):3738-43. doi: 10.1210/endo.137.9.8756540.


Potassium deficiency produced by feeding mice a low potassium diet caused a marked decrease in plasma and testicular testosterone concentrations and a concomitant fall in the weight of seminal vesicles and in renal ornithine decarboxylase activity. All of these parameters were rapidly restored when potassium supply was normalized. Immunocytochemical analysis of gonadotropes and plasma LH values suggested that the pulsatile liberation of LH by the pituitary was impaired in the potassium-deficient male mice. Because the synthesis of testosterone in the potassium-deficient mice was stimulated by exogenous LH, hCG, or GnRH, one can conclude that alteration of the transcellular potassium gradient could affect the regulation of the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-testicular axis by affecting the pulsatile release of GnRH. Our results showing that the stimulation of LH secretion after castration was similar in control and potassium-deficient male mice suggest that a testicular factor(s) different from testosterone could be implicated in the abnormal regulation of LH secretion in potassium-deficient mice. We conclude that plasma potassium concentration is an important factor in the regulation of gonadotropin secretion and testicular functions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Hypokalemia / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Orchiectomy
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testosterone / biosynthesis*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase