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SB Meroni, MF Riera, EH Pellizzari, and SB Cigorraga

The FSH molecular mechanism of action is best recognized for its stimulation of the adenylyl cyclase/cAMP pathway via activation of a G protein. Recently, links between cAMP, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and protein kinase B (PKB) signaling pathways in thyroid and granulosa cells have been observed. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible role of the PI3K/PKB pathway in FSH regulation of Sertoli cell function. Twenty-day-old rat Sertoli cell cultures were used. An increase in phosphorylated PKB (P-PKB) levels in response to FSH and dibutyryl-cAMP was observed. These increments in P-PKB levels were not observed in the presence of two PI3K inhibitors, wortmannin and Ly 294002. Inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA) by H89 did not decrease FSH stimulation of P-PKB levels. Taken together, these results indicate that FSH increases P-PKB levels in a PI3K-dependent and PKA-independent manner in rat Sertoli cells. In addition, wortmannin partially inhibited the ability of FSH to stimulate two well-known parameters of Sertoli cell function - transferrin secretion and lactate production - at doses equal to or lower than 0.1 microM. Related to lactate production, a decrease in FSH stimulation of lactate dehydrogenase activity and of basal and FSH-stimulated glucose uptake was observed in the presence of wortmannin. These metabolic changes were in most cases accompanied by changes in the levels of P-PKB. Altogether, these results suggest a meaningful role of the PI3K/PKB pathway in the mechanism of action of FSH in rat Sertoli cells.

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SB Meroni, DF Canepa, EH Pellizzari, HF Schteingart, and SB Cigorraga

To study the role of extracellular nucleosides and nucleotides in the regulation of Sertoli cells, the effects of agonists which occupy A1 and P2 purinergic receptors on aromatase and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (gamma-GTP) activities and on transferrin secretion were tested. Sertoli cell treatment with purinergic agonists for a prolonged period of time (72 h) resulted in an increase in aromatase activity under basal conditions. In cultures stimulated with FSH, purinergic agonists counteracted the inhibitory effect on aromatase activity that long-term treatment with FSH promoted. The effects of prolonged treatments with purinergic agonists on the other two parameters of Sertoli cell function were less pronounced. Neither gamma-GTP activity nor transferrin secretion was modified under basal conditions. On the other hand, under conditions where cell differentiation was favored by FSH treatment, reductions in gamma-GTP activity and transferrin secretion were usually observed. The results obtained in dbcAMP-stimulated cultures suggested that A1 agonists exert their regulatory function at the level of cAMP formation while P2 agonists act at a more distal point. The fact that morphological changes induced by FSH were reversed by both types of agonists, while those induced by dbcAMP were only abrogated by P2 agonists, supports this hypothesis. In summary, these results demonstrate that purinergic agonists may be important in the regulation of Sertoli cell function.

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SB Meroni, MF Riera, EH Pellizzari, MN Galardo, and SB Cigorraga

The gonadotropin FSH plays a key role in the control of Sertoli cell function. The FSH molecular mechanism of action is best recognized for its stimulation of the adenylyl cyclase/cAMP pathway. However, other signaling events have also been demonstrated in Sertoli cells. We have recently presented evidence that FSH can stimulate the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/PKB) pathway in 20-day-old Sertoli cells. At the same time, it was proposed that in 8-day-old Sertoli cells the effects of FSH on phosphorylated PKB (P-PKB) levels can be explained by a combination of increased secretion of endogenous IGF-I, decreased IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) production, and a synergistic action of FSH on IGF-I-dependent PI3K activation. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the effect of FSH on 20-day-old Sertoli cells is mediated by IGF-I secretion. Twenty-day-old rat Sertoli cell cultures were used. FSH stimulation produced a time-dependent increment in P-PKB levels reaching maximal values in 60-min incubations. IGF-I stimulation was also time-dependent reaching maximal values in 15-min incubations. On the other hand, stimulation of the cultures with FSH showed time-dependent inhibition in phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase (P-MAPK) levels. In sharp contrast, stimulation of the cultures with IGF-I showed time-dependent increments in P-MAPK levels reaching maximal stimulus in 15-min incubations. In order to rule out an IGF-I action on FSH stimulation of P-PKB levels, the effect of a specific IGF-I antibody on the ability of both hormones to increase P-PKB levels was evaluated. As expected, the antibody inhibited IGF-I stimulation of P-PKB levels. However, simultaneous addition of an IGF-I antibody with FSH did not modify the ability of the hormone to increase P-PKB levels. The next set of experiments intended to analyze the relevance of a PI3K/PKB pathway to two biological responses of Sertoli cells to FSH and IGF-I. The PI3K inhibitor, wortmannin, dose-dependently decreased FSH-stimulated lactate and transferrin production. On the other hand, wortmannin was not able to modify the ability of IGF-I to stimulate these metabolic events. In addition, the analysis of the participation of a MAPK pathway in IGF-I regulation of Sertoli cell biological responses showed that the MAPK kinase inhibitors, PD98059 and U0126, decreased IGF-I-stimulated transferrin secretion while not modifying IGF-I-stimulated lactate levels. In summary, results obtained so far support the hypothesis that FSH action on P-PKB levels and Sertoli cell metabolism in 20-day-old animals is not mediated by autocrine regulation of an IGF-I/ IGFBP-3 axis as previously proposed in 8-day-old Sertoli cells.

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MF Riera, SB Meroni, HF Schteingart, EH Pellizzari, and SB Cigorraga

By using cultured rat Sertoli cells as a model, both the action of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) on lactate production and the site of this action were studied. bFGF stimulated Sertoli cell lactate production in a dose-dependent manner (basal: 7.3+/-0.5; 0.1 ng/ml bFGF: 7.5+/-0.5; 1 ng/ml bFGF: 7.5+/-0.6; 10 ng/ml bFGF: 10.3+/-1.0; 30 ng/ml bFGF: 15.2+/-1.5; 50 ng/ml bFGF: 15.4+/-1.6 microg/microg DNA). Two major sites for the action of this growth factor were identified. First, bFGF was shown to exert short- and long-term stimulatory effects on glucose transport (basal: 1170+/-102; 30 ng/ml bFGF for 120 min: 1718+/-152 and basal: 718+/-64; 30 ng/ml bFGF for 48 h: 1069+/-69 d.p.m./microg DNA respectively). Short-term bFGF stimulation of glucose transport was not inhibited by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. These results indicate that short-term bFGF stimulation of glucose uptake does not involve an increase in the number of glucose transporters. On the other hand, stimulation with bFGF for periods of time longer than 12 h increased glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) mRNA levels. These increased mRNA levels were probably ultimately responsible for the increments in glucose uptake that are observed in long-term treated cultures. Secondly, bFGF increased lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity (basal: 31.0+/-1.4; 30 ng/ml bFGF: 45.7+/- 2.4 mIU/microg DNA). The principal subunit component of those LDH isozymes that favors the transformation of pyruvate to lactate is subunit A. bFGF increased LDH A mRNA levels in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In summary, the results presented herein show that glucose transport, LDH activity and GLUT1 and LDH A mRNA levels are regulated by bFGF to achieve an increase in lactate production. These observed regulatory actions provide unequivocal evidence of the participation of bFGF in Sertoli cell lactate production which may be related to normal germ cell development.