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      Neuronal Elements in the Testis of the Rhesus Monkey: Ontogeny, Characterization and Relationship to Testicular Cells

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          Intrinsic neuron-like cells expressing the catecholamine-biosynthetic enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) were recently identified in the testis of the prepubertal rhesus monkey. In this study, we characterized the neuron-like nature of these cells and examined distribution and frequency of neuronal elements in the testes of monkeys during postnatal development, puberty and adulthood. Using immunohistochemical methods, we detected both nerve fibers and cell bodies, immunoreactive for the neuronal markers neurofilament 200 (NF-200) and synaptosomal associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25), TH and neuropeptide Y (NPY) in perivascular locations, intermingled with interstitial cells and close to the wall of seminiferous tubules. Marked age-related differences in the numbers of these neuronal elements became apparent, when we quantified NF-200-immunoreactive neuronal elements. Thus, intrinsic neuron-like cell bodies were found only in the testes from immature animals (i.e., until about 3 years of age). Conversely, nerve fibers, presumably representing mainly the extrinsic innervation, were observed at all ages although they became more prominent after the pubertal increase in LH and testosterone levels. Interestingly, another testicular cell type known to contain potent regulatory substances, mast cells, was found to be in close anatomical proximity to nerve fibers. The number of these cells, positively identified with an antibody to tryptase, increased significantly after puberty following the same pattern as nerve fibers. These results confirm that the testicular nervous system of the monkey is composed of two components, intrinsic nerve cells and extrinsic fibers, both of which are catecholaminergic and peptidergic in nature. Furthermore, both components show a marked degree of plasticity during development, especially around the time of puberty. The intratesticular locations of neuron-like cells and fibers suggest that catecholamines and neuropeptides are likely to have multiple sites of actions, and may affect Leydig cells, cells of the tubular wall and vascular cells directly and/or indirectly via intermediation of mast cells.

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          Most cited references 7

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          Neurotransmitters as growth regulatory signals: role of receptors and second messengers.

           Jean M Lauder (1993)
          In the adult nervous system, neurotransmitters act as chemical mediators of intercellular communication by the activation of specific receptors and second messengers in postsynaptic cells. This specialized role may have evolved from more primitive functions in lower organisms where these substances were used as both intra- and intercellular signalling devices. This view derives from the finding that a number of 'classical' neurotransmitters are present in primitive organisms and early embryos in the absence of a nervous system, and pharmacological evidence that these substances regulate morphogenetic activities such as proliferation, differentiation, cell motility and metamorphosis. These phylogenetically old functions may be reiterated in the developing nervous system and in the humoral functions of neurotransmitters outside the nervous system. This review will provide evidence for this hypothesis based on the commonality of signal transduction mechanisms used in primitive organisms, early embryos and non-neuronal cells, and relate these relationships to the functions of neurotransmitters in the developing nervous system. This discussion has generally been limited to neurotransmitters where non-neuronal functions have been studied and information regarding the involvement of receptors and second messenger pathways is available.
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            Mast cells increase in tissues of neonatal rats injected with the nerve growth factor.

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              Oocytes are a source of catecholamines in the primate ovary: evidence for a cell-cell regulatory loop.

              Catecholamines, thought to derive from the extrinsic innervation of the ovary, participate in the regulation of ovarian development and mature gonadal function. Recently, intraovarian neurons containing tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis, were described in the ovary of nonhuman primates. We now show that the primate ovary expresses both the genes encoding TH and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH), the key enzymes in norepinephrine (NE) biosynthesis. Ovarian neurons were identified as a site of TH and DBH gene expression, and surprisingly, oocytes were identified as an exclusive site of DBH synthesis. Oocytes contain neither TH mRNA nor protein, indicating that they are unable to synthesize dopamine (DA). They did, however, express a DA transporter gene identical to that found in human brain. The physiological relevance of this transporter system and DBH in oocytes was indicated by the ability of isolated oocytes to metabolize exogenous DA into NE. Isolated follicles containing oocytes-but not those from which the oocytes had been removed-responded to DA with an elevation in cAMP levels; this elevation was prevented by propranolol, a beta-adrenoreceptor antagonist. The results suggest that oocytes and somatic cells are linked by a neuroendocrine loop consisting of NE synthesized in oocytes from actively transported DA and cAMP produced by somatic follicular cells in response to NE-induced beta-adrenoreceptor activation.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                January 2000
                14 January 2000
                : 71
                : 1
                : 43-50
                aAnatomisches Institut, Technische Universität München, Deutschland; bInstituto de Biologia y Medicina Experimental, Buenos Aires, Argentina and cOregon Regional Primate Research Center-Oregon Health Sciences University, Division of Neuroscience, Beaverton, Oreg., USA
                54519 Neuroendocrinology 2000;71:43–50
                © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 67, Pages: 8
                Gonadotropins and Gonadal Steroids


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