1. Castration of adult rats resulted in marked decreases in the amounts of putrescine, spermidine and spermine in the ventral prostate gland. Spermidine concentrations decline rapidly over the first 11 days after androgen withdrawal, reaching a value of only 12% of normal controls. Spermine concentrations diminish more slowly, reaching 24% of normal within 11 days. The spermidine/spermine molar ratio falls from 0.9 to 0.46 under these conditions. Putrescine concentrations decrease by 70% at 7 days after castration and then remain constant for some days. 2. After daily injections of testosterone propionate to rats castrated 7 days previously, prostatic spermidine and putrescine concentrations increase significantly within 24h; normal or even greater values are observed within 8 and 4 days respectively. In contrast, the spermine concentration does not increase until 5 days after commencement of androgen treatment. 3. The activities of two enzymes involved in polyamine biosynthesis (ornithine decarboxylase and a putrescine-activated S-adenosyl-l-methionine decarboxylase system) were greatly decreased soon after castration: after 7 days the respective values were 15% of normal for ornithine decarboxylase and 7% of normal for putrescine-dependent decarboxylation of S-adenosyl-l-methionine. Injection of testosterone propionate into animals castrated 7 days previously induced a rapid increase in both enzymic activities: ornithine decarboxylase was doubled in 6h, and increased three- to four-fold within 48h, whereas the putrescine-dependent decarboxylation of S-adenosyl-l-methionine doubled in 3h and increased tenfold within 48h of commencement of daily androgen treatments. 4. The activity of these enzyme systems was very low in the ventral prostates of hypophysectomized rats and was increased by administration of testosterone in a manner similar to that found in castrated rats. 5. Alterations in the activity of two ventral-prostate enzymes involved in ornithine production (arginase) and utilization (ornithine–2-oxoglutarate transaminase) that result from changes in the androgenic status of rats are described. 6. The findings presented suggest that the activities of ornithine decarboxylase and the putrescine-dependent S-adenosyl-l-methionine decarboxylase system, rather than ornithine concentrations, are rate-limiting for the formation of putrescine and polyamines in rat ventral prostate. 7. The relation of polyamines to androgen-induced prostatic growth is discussed with particular reference to the biosynthesis of proteins and nucleic acids.

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