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FEBS Lett. 1998 Sep 25;436(1):23-7.

Secretion of D-aspartic acid by the rat testis and its role in endocrinology of the testis and spermatogenesis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Zoological Station of Naples, Napoli, Italy.


The D-isomer of aspartic acid (D-Asp) has been found in rat testes. In the present study, samples of testicular venous blood plasma, rete testis fluid, interstitial extracellular fluid, luminal fluid from the seminiferous tubules, testicular parenchymal cells, epididymal spermatozoa and peripheral blood plasma were collected and analyzed for D-Asp by two methods, an enzymatic and a chromatographic HPLC method. The two methods gave very similar results for all samples. The highest concentrations of D-Asp (about 120 nmol/ml) were found in testicular venous blood plasma, with slightly lower concentrations in rete testis fluid (95 nmol/ml) and epididymal spermatozoa (80 nmol/g wet weight). Lower levels were found in testicular parenchymal cells (which would comprise mostly spermatids and spermatocytes), luminal fluid from the seminiferous tubules and interstitial extracellular fluid (26, 23 and 11 nmol/ml respectively). However, these values were all higher than those for peripheral blood plasma (6 nmol/ml). It would appear that D-Asp is being secreted by the testis mostly into the venous blood, passing thence into the rete testis fluid and being incorporated into the spermatozoa at the time or after they leave the testis. The distribution of D-Asp is thus quite different from that of testosterone, and its role and the reason for its high concentration in the male reproductive tract remain to be elucidated.

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