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J Anat. 2006 Mar;208(3):373-9.

Effects of increased nerve growth factor plasma levels on the expression of TrkA and p75 in rat testicles.

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Dipartimento di Morfologia, Biochimica, Fisiologia e Produzione Animale, Sezione di Morfologia, Università di Messina, Italy.


In addition to their well-known roles within the nervous system, the neurotrophins and their receptors regulate some functions in the reproductive system. In this study we used combined morphological and immunohistochemical techniques to investigate the presence and cellular localization in the rat testicle of the two receptors of nerve growth factor (NGF), i.e. TrkA and p75(NTR). Furthermore, to evaluate whether increased plasma levels of NGF affect the ageing process, 4-methylcathechol (4-MC), an inductor of NGF synthesis, was administered. Both TrkA and p75(NTR) were expressed in rat testicles, but the pattern and intensity of immunoreaction were marginally different between them. In adult rats TrkA was expressed in spermatozoa and spermatids, and p75 was expressed in spermatogonia. In newborn rats TrkA immunoreactivity was found in the Leydig cells, whereas p75 was detected in a cellular layer that surrounds the seminiferous tubules. In adult treated animals the immunoreaction for TrkA and p75(NTR) was also localized in the spermatocytes, whereas in newborn treated rats no changes in the pattern of immunoreaction was observed. The present findings suggest a role of the NGF/TrkA/p75 system in the physiology of reproduction, but the practical relevance of this remains to be established.

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