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Contraception. 2002 Apr;65(4):305-11.

Antioxidant superoxide dismutase - a review: its function, regulation in the testis, and role in male fertility.

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  • 1Population Council, Center for Biomedical Research, New York, NY, USA.


Extracellular superoxide dismutase (SOD(EX)), an antioxidant enzyme, was found to be present in the testis at a relatively high concentration versus other organs. In a more detailed survey of several rat tissues and cells by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, it was shown that germ cells expressed approximately one-third that of Sertoli cells, suggesting both cell types are equipped with the machinery needed to defend themselves from radical-induced damage. When we used an in vitro model in which germ cells were co-cultured with Sertoli cells at a Sertoli:germ cell ratio of 1:1, we failed to detect any changes in the mRNA level of SOD(EX). However, the addition of increasing concentrations of germ cell secretory proteins into Sertoli cell cultures resulted in a decrease in Sertoli cell SOD(EX) expression, illustrating that germ cells can indeed regulate Sertoli cell SOD(EX). On the other hand, Sertoli cell SOD(EX) expression was stimulated when human recombinant interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha), a germ cell product, was included into Sertoli cells in vitro. These results, taken collectively, suggest SOD(EX) is an important antioxidant molecule in the testis that is under germ cell regulation.

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