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Endocrinology. 1996 Jan;137(1):105-12.

Induction of lipid peroxidation during steroidogenesis in the rat testis.

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Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Finland.


Free radical production and lipid peroxidation are potentially important mediators in testicular physiology and toxicology. The cytochrome P450 enzymes of the steroidogenic pathway are known to produce free radicals. The present study was conducted to elucidate in vivo the gonadotropin regulation of free radical-mediated lipid peroxidation and the antioxidative defense system in the rat testis. GnRH antagonist (Org 30276; 1 mg/kg BW) and testosterone [40-mm SILASTIC brand (Dow-Corning) capsules] treatments were used to suppress serum gonadotropin levels. As expected, serum LH decreased to a very low level, whereas serum FSH decreased only slightly. Testosterone treatment for 8 days decreased the levels of the peroxide-metabolizing enzymes, catalase, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and glutathione transferase (-44%, -24%, and -31%, respectively; P < 0.01 for all). These changes predominately reflect the interstitial tissue, in which catalase and GSH-Px activities were much higher than in the seminiferous tubules. Testicular CuZn or Mn superoxide dismutase activities, which were high in the seminiferous tubules, were not affected by gonadotropin suppression. The total peroxyl radical-trapping capacity of the testis, or its components, vitamin E and ubiquinol 9, were not affected either. Lipid peroxidation was decreased after 8-day treatment, as detected by diminished formation of conjugated dienes and fluorescent chromolipids (-30% and -19%, respectively; P < 0.05 for both). Similar results of decreasing catalase and GSH-Px activities were found after gonadotropin suppression with GnRH antagonist treatment for 2 days or testosterone treatment for 5 days. Substitution with hCG, alone or in combination with recombinant human FSH, reversed the changes in enzyme activities, whereas FSH alone had no effect. After 5-day testosterone treatment, catalase messenger RNA expression was studied by Northern hybridization, and it was observed to parallel the changes in enzyme activity. The site of free radical production was studied by separating interstitial tissue and seminiferous tubules 5 h after hCG injection. GSH-Px was induced by hCG only in the interstitial tissue (+28%; P< 0.01), supporting the hypothesis of free radical production during steroidogenesis. Aminoglutethimide, an inhibitor of the P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme, induced extensive lipid peroxidation in the testis. Presumably, aminoglutethimide leads to leakage of free radicals from the P450 enzyme when substrate oxygenation is prevented. In conclusion, the present study suggests that physiological LH action in the rat testis causes lipid peroxidation and maintains high activities of peroxide-metabolizing enzymes in the interstitial tissue.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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