Detection of platelet-derived growth factor-alpha (PDGF-A) protein in cells of Leydig lineage in the postnatal rat testis

K A Fecteau, L Mrkonjich, J I Mason, S M L C Mendis-Handagama
Histology and Histopathology 2006, 21 (12): 1295-302
Platelet-derived growth factor-A (PDGF-A) is a locally produced growth factor in the rat testis secreted by both Sertoli cells and Leydig cells. It has been suggested that PDGF-A may be involved in modulation of testosterone production and may be essential to Leydig cell differentiation, however it is not known at what stage of differentiation PDGF-A begins to be expressed in the cells of Leydig lineage in the postnatal rat testis. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to determine at what postnatal age and in which cell type is PDGF-A first expressed in cells of the adult Leydig cell lineage, and does PDGF-A expression coincide with expression of 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD), an indicator of steroid hormone synthesis. Male Sprague Dawley rats of postnatal day 1, 7, 9-14, 21, 28, 40, 60, and 90 were used (n=6). Animals were euthanized and their testicles removed, fixed in Bouin's solution, embedded in paraffin, and 5 micrometers sections were prepared. Immunolocalization of PDGF-A and 3beta-HSD was carried out using a peroxidase-streptavidin-biotin method. PDGF-A was first detected in cells of the Leydig cell lineage at postnatal day 10 in progenitor cells, which were surrounding the seminiferous tubules (peritubular). These cells were confirmed to be the progenitor cells and not the mesenchymal or any other spindle-shaped cells in the testis interstitium by immunolocalization of 3beta-HSD and PDGF-A in the cells in adjacent sections of testis tissue from rats of postnatal days 10-14. After postnatal day 10, PDGF-A was continued to be expressed in subsequent cells of the Leydig lineage through day 90 (adult), however, was not present in peritubular mesenchymal precursor cells of the Leydig cell lineage or any other spindle-shaped cells in the testis interstitium at any tested age. These results revealed that PDGF-A first appears in Leydig progenitor cells in the postnatal rat testis at the onset of mesenchymal cell differentiation into progenitor cells at postnatal day 10 and suggest that a functional role(s) of PDGF-A in postnatally differentiated Leydig cells in the rat testis is established at the time of the onset of postnatal Leydig stem cell differentiation. It is suggested that the significance of the first expression of PDGF-A in the Leydig progenitor cells may be associated with inducing cell proliferation and migration of this cell away from the peritubular region during Leydig cell differentiation.

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