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FF Rommerts, L Kuhne, GW van Cappellen, DM Stocco, SR King, and A Jankowska

The mechanism by which ethane 1,2-dimethanesulfonate (EDS) selectively kills Leydig cells is poorly understood. To characterize further the cell-specific actions of EDS, we studied biochemical and morphological changes during apoptosis in different Leydig cell and non-steroidogenic cell models.Rat testicular and H540 tumor Leydig cells were killed by 1-2 mM EDS, whereas 20 mM EDS were required for MA-10 cells. This higher concentration of EDS was also necessary for activation of apoptosis in non-steroidogenic Chinese hamster ovary cells, whereas COS-1 monkey kidney cells were resistant. These variable effects of EDS on apoptosis were independent of new protein synthesis and, interestingly, could be delayed by co-incubation with dibutyrl cyclic AMP. Along with cell death, we also observed chromosomal fragmentation and other hallmarks indicative of apoptosis as evidenced by DNA laddering and fluorescent microscopy. Time-lapse photography with a confocal microscope showed that the time of onset, duration and even the sequence of apoptotic events between individual H540 cells was heterogeneous. When the dose of EDS was gradually increased from 2 to 10 mM, the proportion of cells showing normal apoptotic features gradually decreased. Intriguingly, treatment with 10 mM EDS did not result in death for most cells and was marked by an absence of DNA laddering and ultrastructural features of apoptosis and necrosis. However, incubation with 20 mM EDS resulted in necrosis.These results demonstrated that the effects of EDS on cell survival are not specific to Leydig cells, that different cell types have different sensitivities to EDS and that stimulation of the cAMP pathway may mitigate EDS action. The data obtained with H540 cells further revealed that EDS can induce two types of programmed cell death.

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FF Rommerts, FM Lyng, E von Ledebur, L Quinlan, GR Jones, JB Warchol, M Stefanini, N Ravindranath, and M Joffre

When results of more than ten different studies on hormone-induced calcium signals in Sertoli cells are taken together, a wide variety of responses emerges. The reported changes range from increased concentrations, via no response at all, to decreased calcium concentrations. Minor variations in cell isolation techniques, culture conditions, or techniques for measuring the intracellular calcium could explain some of these differences. However, erratic variations in response are also observed within research groups under very similar experimental conditions. Such 'negative' findings are mainly reported orally and do not further penetrate the scientific community. As hormone-dependent calcium responses evidently may depend very much on the context of the cells, calcium transients would appear to be unreliable bioassay principles with which to detect the primary actions of FSH and effectors such as androgens on Sertoli cells. A more important biological question is whether these sometimes opposed calcium transients are connected with a particular cellular response. To date there is no evidence for such a tight coupling in Sertoli cells, implying that, at least under in vitro conditions, calcium signals might even be redundant altogether. Such calcium variability is probably not unique to Sertoli cells, and the aim of this commentary is to promote an open debate that may help to transform the current state of 'calcium confusion' into a better understanding of the intracellular calcium language.