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Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Sep 15;691(1-3):283-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2012.07.021. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Intracellular signaling pathways involved in the relaxin-induced proliferation of rat Sertoli cells.

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Section of Experimental Endocrinology, Department of Pharmacology, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Regulation of Sertoli cell number is a key event to determine normal spermatogenesis. We have previously shown that relaxin and its G-protein coupled receptor RXFP1 are expressed in rat Sertoli cells, and that relaxin stimulates Sertoli cell proliferation. This study examined the mechanisms underlying the mitogenic effect of relaxin in a primary culture of Sertoli cells removed from testes of immature rats. Stimulation with exogenous relaxin increased Sertoli cell number and the expression of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), but did not affect the mRNA level of the differentiation markers cadherins 1 and 2. Relaxin-induced Sertoli cell proliferation was blocked by inhibition of MEK/ERK1/2 or PI3K/AKT pathways, but not by inhibition of PKC or EGFR activity. Relaxin induced a rapid and transient activation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation, which was MEK and SRC-dependent, and involved upstream activation of G(i). AKT activation could be detected 5 min after relaxin stimulation, and was still detected after 24h of stimulation with relaxin. Relaxin-induced AKT phosphorylation was G(i)- but not PKA-dependent, and it was blocked by both PI3K and MEK inhibitors. In conclusion, the mitogenic effect of relaxin in Sertoli cell involves coupling to G(i) and activation of both MEK/ERK1/2 and PI3K/AKT pathways.

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