Gonadotropins Regulate Rat Testicular Tight Junctions in Vivo

Mark McCabe, Gerard A Tarulli, Sarah J Meachem, David M Robertson, Peter Maurice Smooker, Peter G Stanton

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Sertoli cell tight junctions (TJs) are an essential component of the blood-testis barrier required for spermatogenesis; however, the role of gonadotropins in their maintenance is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the effect of gonadotropin suppression and short-term replacement on TJ function and TJ protein (occludin and claudin-11) expression and localization, in an adult rat model in vivo. Rats (n = 10/group) received the GnRH antagonist, acyline, for 7 wk to suppress gonadotropins. Three groups then received for 7 d: 1) human recombinant FSH, 2) human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and rat FSH antibody (to study testicular androgen stimulation alone), and 3) hCG alone (to study testicular androgen and pituitary FSH production). TJ proteins were assessed by real-time PCR, Western blot analysis, and immunohistochemistry, whereas TJ function was assessed with a biotin permeation tracer. Acyline treatment significantly reduced testis weights, serum androgens, LH and FSH, and adluminal germ cells (pachytene spermatocyte, round and elongating spermatids). In contrast to controls, acyline induced seminiferous tubule permeability to biotin, loss of tubule lumens, and loss of occludin, but redistribution of claudin-11, immunostaining. Short-term hormone replacement stimulated significant recoveries in adluminal germ cell numbers. In hCG +/- FSH antibody-treated rats, occludin and claudin-11 protein relocalized at the TJ, but such relocalization was minimal with FSH alone. Tubule lumens also reappeared, but most tubules remained permeable to biotin tracer, despite the presence of occludin. It is concluded that gonadotropins maintain Sertoli cell TJs in the adult rat via a mechanism that includes the localization of occludin and claudin-11 at functional TJs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2911 - 2922
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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