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Reproduction. 2009 Oct;138(4):667-77. doi: 10.1530/REP-09-0020. Epub 2009 Jul 24.

Vascular endothelial growth factor regulates germ cell survival during establishment of spermatogenesis in the bovine testis.

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Department of Animal Sciences and Center for Reproductive Biology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164, USA.


Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGFA) is a hypoxia-inducible peptide essential for angiogenesis and targets nonvascular cells in a variety of tissues and cell types. The objective of the current study was to determine the function of VEGF during testis development in bulls. We used an explant tissue culture and treatment approach to test the hypothesis that VEGFA-164 could regulate the biological activity of bovine germ cells. We demonstrate that VEGFA, KDR, and FLT1 proteins are expressed in germ and somatic cells in the bovine testis. Treatment of bovine testis tissue with VEGFA in vitro resulted in significantly more germ cells following 5 days of culture when compared with controls. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis determined that VEGF treatment stimulated an intracellular response that prevents germ cell death in bovine testis tissue explants, as indicated by increased expression of BCL2 relative to BAX and decreased expression of BNIP3 at 3, 6, and 24 h during culture. Blocking VEGF activity in vitro using antisera against KDR and VEGF significantly reduced the number of germ cells in VEGF-treated testis tissue to control levels at 120 h. Testis grafting provided in vivo evidence that bovine testis tissue treated with VEGFA for 5 days in culture contained significantly more differentiating germ cells compared with controls. These findings support the conclusion that VEGF supports germ cell survival and sperm production in bulls.

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