Author(s): Dufau ML, Tinajero JC, Fabbri A
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Abstract Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), the key neuropeptide in the stress cascade, has major inhibitory actions on testicular function in addition to its known antireproductive effects at the central level (inhibition of sexual behavior and LH secretion). CRF is secreted by the Leydig cells of the testis and acts through high-affinity receptors at the Leydig cell membrane as a potent negative regulator of LH action, inhibiting gonadotropin-induced cAMP generation and androgen production. CRF is also a primary stimulus of beta-endorphin secretion by the Leydig cells, which in turn exerts paracrine inhibition of FSH action in the tubular compartment of the testis through high-affinity receptors in the Sertoli cells. CRF action in the Leydig cells involves a pertussis toxin-insensitive guanyl nucleotide regulatory unit. In contrast to CRF receptors in the brain, pituitary, and other peripheral tissues, those in the Leydig cell are not coupled to Gs. The inhibitory action of CRF in the Leydig cell is exerted through protein kinase C, at the level of the catalytic subunit of adenylate cyclase. The secretion of CRF by the Leydig cell is stimulated by LH, acting via release of serotonin (5HT) and autocrine activation of 5HT2 receptors. Serotonin acts on 5HT2 receptors in the Leydig cell to stimulate CRF secretion via a pertussis toxin insensitive G-protein and presumably through activation of phosphoinositide hydrolysis. The diversity of the biochemical responses to CRF and 5HT2 receptor activation (i.e., inhibition of adenylate cyclase at the cytoplasmic aspect of the cell membrane vs. stimulation of CRF release from secretion granules) may reflect the stimulation of different protein kinase C isoenzymes. The LH-->5HT-->CRF inhibitory loop serves to continuously buffer the stimulation of androgen production by gonadotropin. 5HT, the immediate stimulus of testicular CRF secretion, is released during stress and is locally increased in the testis in pathological conditions associated with impaired testicular function (i.e., orchitis, varicocele). Also, propranolol, the beta-adrenergic antagonist frequently used in the control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension and often associated with impotence, acts via a serotonergic mechanism to stimulate CRF secretion and causes marked inhibition of LH-induced cAMP production and steroidogenesis in cultured Leydig cells. These basic studies of 5HT and CRF are relevant to the pathogenesis of testicular dysfunction and for the development of antagonist therapies to block CRF production and its local antireproductive effects.
This article was published in FASEB J
and referenced in Research & Reviews: Journal of Zoological Sciences