Steroidogenesis during postnatal testicular development of Galea spixii
The androgen/estrogen balance is essential for normal sexual development and reproduction in mammals. Studies performed herein investigated the potential for estrogen synthesis in cells of the testes of a hystricomorph rodent, Galea spixii. The study characterized the expression of the key enzymes responsible for estrogen and androgen synthesis, cytochromes P450 aromatase (P450arom), 17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (P450c17) respectively, as well as the redox partner NADPH cytochrome P450 oxido-reductase (CPR) required to support electron transfer and catalysis of these P450s, by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis, throughout postnatal sexual development. Testes (immature, pre-pubertal, pubertal and post-pubertal) were collected, fixed for IHC (CYP19, CYP17 and CPR) and stored frozen for qPCR for the relevant gene transcripts (Cyp19a1 and Cyp17a1). Expression of P450c17 was significantly elevated at the pre-pubertal and pubertal stages. Based on IHC, P450c17 was expressed only in Leydig cell clusters. The expression of P450arom was detectable at all stages of sexual development of Galea spixii. IHC data suggest that estrogen synthesis was not restricted to somatic cells (Leydig cells/Sertoli cells), but that germ cells may also be capable of converting androgens into estrogens, important for testicular function and spermatogenesis.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science