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Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2009;47(1):117-22. doi: 10.2478/v10042-009-0002-6.

Expression of testicular angiotensin-converting enzyme in adult spontaneously hypertensive rats.

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Institute of Experimental Morphology and Anthropology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria.


Recent studies demonstrated that one isoform of angiotensin-converting enzyme named testicular or germinal (tACE) is localized in postmeiotic male germ cells and is essential for fertilizing ability of spermatozoa. Hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) is androgen-dependent and reduction in male gametes is reported in this experimental conditions. Expression of tACE was not studied under conditions of spontaneous hypertension. The aim of this work is to characterize immuno-expression of tACE in the testis of adult (16-week-old) SHR rats in relation to the changes in blood pressure and serum testosterone level. In 82% of adult SHR, the immuno-expression of tACE followed the normal stage-specific pattern. Destructive testicular changes, germ cells depletion have been observed in 18% of 16-week-old SHR and stronger expression of tACE in stages 8-11 compared to controls was detected. As a result stage specificity in SHR was not as evident as in control. No reaction was found in germ cell depleted tubules in which elongated spermatids were absent. Degenerating germ cells exhibited strong immunostaining comparable to that in residual bodies. The blood pressure was significantly higher in SHR and testosterone levels were more than twice but non-significantly elevated. There was no clear correlation between testicular structural changes, blood pressure level values or serum testosterone levels. Expression of tACE in postmeiotic germ cells, specifically altered by SHR, suggested possible involvement of components of renin-angiotensin system in the process of spermiogenesis. Loss of enzyme expression we found in germ cell depleted tubules in SHR is due to absence of corresponding stages of spermatid differentiation. Therefore, tACE can be used as a marker for germ cell depletion due to hypertension and other pathological conditions.

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