The number of Sertoli cells (SCs) ultimately determines the upper limit of sperm production in the testis. Previous studies have shown that thyroid hormones (TH) receptors are abundantly expressed in developing SCs; therefore, it was highly significant to discover that transient neonatal hypothyroidism induced by the goitrogen 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU) can extend SCs proliferation beyond the first 2 weeks postnatal and increase testis weight and sperm production. Further studies concluded that treatment must begin before day 8 post birth in rats. Recent studies, however, showed that SCs present in the transition region at the rete testis exhibit a more immature phenotype and have prolonged mitotic activity, which led to the hypothesis that SCs in this region will retain the capacity to respond to PTU treatment over a longer period of time. In the present study, male Wistar rats were treated with PTU from days 21 to 40 and were evaluated at 40 and 160 days of age. Similar to neonatal rat SCs, it was demonstrated that prepubertal SCs in the transition region have a high mitotic activity and are highly sensitive to TH levels. This delayed, transient hypothyroidism resulted in significantly increased testis weight, SCs number and daily sperm production. The results demonstrate for the first time that Sertoli cells showing plasticity in the transition region can be stimulated to increase proliferation and contribute to a late stage surge in testis weight and sperm output.
André F A Figueiredo, Natália Teixeira Wnuk, Amanda O Tavares, José Rafael Miranda, Rex A Hess, Luiz Renato de França and Guilherme M J Costa
Paulo Henrique Almeida Campos-Junior, Guilherme Mattos Jardim Costa, Gleide Fernandes Avelar, Samyra Maria Santos Nassif Lacerda, Nathália Nogueira da Costa, Otávio Mitio Ohashi, Moysés dos Santos Miranda, Lucíola Silva Barcelos, Érika Cristina Jorge, Diva Anelie Guimarães and Luiz Renato de França
Because the collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) has a peculiar Leydig cell cytoarchitecture, this species represents a unique mammalian model for investigating testis function. Taking advantage of the well-established and very useful testis xenograft technique, in the present study, testis tissue and testis cell suspensions from immature collared peccaries (n=4; 3 months old) were xenografted in SCID mice (n=48) and evaluated at 2, 4, 6, and 8 months after grafting. Complete spermatogenesis was observed at 6 and 8 months after testis tissue xenografting. However, probably due to de novo testis morphogenesis and low androgen secretion, functionally evaluated by the seminal vesicle weight, a delay in spermatogenesis progression was observed in the testis cell suspension xenografts, with the production of fertile sperm only at 8 months after grafting. Importantly, demonstrating that the peculiar testicular cytoarchitecture of the collared peccary is intrinsically programmed, the unique Leydig cell arrangement observed in this species was re-established after de novo testis morphogenesis. The sperm collected from the xenografts resulted in diploid embryos that expressed the paternally imprinted gene NNAT after ICSI. The present study is the first to demonstrate complete spermatogenesis with the production of fertile sperm from testis cell suspension xenografts in a wild mammalian species. Therefore, due to its unique testicular cytoarchitecture, xenograft techniques, particularly testis cell suspensions, may represent a new and very promising approach to evaluate testis morphogenesis and to investigate spermatogonial stem cell physiology and niche in the collared peccary.