Key words: NO/cGMP pathway
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. In this study we sought to determine whether the main components of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway are localized within the Leydig cells of the human testis and whether the soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), the enzyme that accounts for NO effects, is functionally active in these cells. Using an amplified immunocytochemical technique, immunoreactivity for nitric oxide synthase (NOS-I), sGC and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) was detected within the cytoplasm of human Leydig cells. Distinct differences in staining intensity were found between individual Leydig cells, between cell groups and between Leydig cells of different patients. By means of a specific cGMP-RIA, a concentration-dependent increase in the quantity of cGMP was measured in primary cultures of human Leydig cells following exposure to the NO donor sodium nitroprusside. In addition, NOS-I immunoreactivity was seen in Sertoli cells, whereas cGMP and sGC immunoreactivity was found in Sertoli cells, some apically situated spermatids and residual bodies of seminiferous tubules. Dual-labelling studies and the staining of consecutive sections showed that there are several populations of Leydig cells in the human testis. Most cells were immunoreactive for NOS-I, sGC and cGMP, but smaller numbers of cells were unlabelled by any of the antibodies used, or labelled for NOS-I or cGMP alone, for sGC and cGMP, or for NOS-I and sGC. These results show that the Leydig cells possess both the enzyme by which NO is produced and the active enzyme which mediates the NO effects. There are different Leydig cell populations that probably reflect variations in their functional (steroidogenic) activity.
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