98 research outputs found

    Functional role of hepatocyte growth factor receptor during sperm maturation

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    Mammalian spermatozoa acquire motility and fertilizing capacity during their transit through the epididymis. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a pleiotropic cytokine with potent motogenic capacities that has been identified in different organs, including the mammalian male genital tract. In mice, HGF is present in the testis and, in large amounts, in the distal part of the epididymis. In prepuberal rats, we have demonstrated that HGF is synthesized by the peritubular myoid cells and in men, HGF is present in significant quantities in seminal plasma. It has been suggested that in mice, HGF has a role in initiating sperm motility, whereas in men, no significant correlations between HGF concentration and sperm motility have been found. In the present paper we report that in rats, HGF receptor, c-met, is expressed in testicular and epididymal spermatozoa. Through immunocytochemistry, we have found that c-met is exclusively localized on the head in testicular sperm. A different localization of c-met has been found in sperm isolated from caput and cauda epididymidis. Cells isolated from epididymal caput show a c-met localization exclusively restricted to the head in most cells. In a minority of caput epididymis spermatozoa the receptor is localized both in the cell head and along the flagellum. Spermatozoa isolated from the epididymal cauda were quite homogeneous, showing the receptor localized along the entire cell surface. We also report that HGF is synthesized and secreted by the rat epididymis as indicated by the scatter effect of epididymal cell, homogenate and culture medium on MDCK cells. To clarify whether HGF is involved in the acquisition of sperm motility in the epididymis, its maintenance, or both, spermatozoa isolated from caput epididymidis have been cultured in medium alone or supplemented with HGF. The results obtained indicated that HGF has a positive effect on the maintenance of sperm motility which, in the absence of HGF, significantly decreases during the first hour of culture, whereas it is maintained for at least 3 hours when HGF is present in the culture medium. We also report that HGF does not influence spermatozoa viability as indicated by the cytometrical analysis of propidium iodide-labeled sperm; an equal number of dead cells appeared in control and in HGF-treated preparations. In conclusion, our data strongly support the hypothesis that HGF positively influences sperm motility maintenance during sperm transit through the epididymis, indicating that c-met receptor and its ligand, HGF, have a role in male fertility

    Expression and functional role of hepatocyte growth factor receptor (C-MET) during postnatal rat testis development

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    The met protooncogene encodes the hepatocyte growth factor receptor (HGFR, c-met). C-met, a tyrosine kinase receptor protein, is widely expressed in different cell types including the male reproductive tract. As we recently demonstrated, both c-met messenger RNA and protein are expressed in prebuberal rat testis. The aim of this work was to detect the expression of c-met during postnatal testis development and to study its functional role. Our findings show that in total rat testis e-met is expressed during postnatal life until the sexual maturation of the animals. To evaluate the receptor expression in the different cell types in the testis, homogeneous cell populations of Sertoli and peritubular myoid cells were isolated from the seminiferous tubules of 10- and 35-day-old animals. c-met gene is expressed in myoid cells at the ages considered and its expression decreases with increasing age. By contrast, in Sertoli cells c-met expression is first detectable at 25 days of Life and its expression increases with the increasing age being well evident at 35 days of age. C-met protein was detected by immunocytochemistry and its expression correlates with gene expression. The receptor is functionally active because HGF administration induces morphological changes in myoid cells and in c-met-expressing Sertoli cells. As a consequence of HGF addition, Sertoli cells cultured on reconstituted basement membrane reorganize into cord-like structures that resemble testicular seminiferous cords. The data here reported demonstrate for the first: time that in Sertoli cells c-met expression is developmentally regulated being present and functionally active in postpuberal Sertoli cells. Given that c-met expression persists in myoid cells during postnatal testis development and that in Sertoli cells its expression correlates over time with germ cell differentiation and lumen formation, we conclude that the c-met/HGF system is involved in testis development and function

    Pleiotropic activityof hepathocyte growth factor (HGF) during embryonic mouse testis development .

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    The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a pleiotropic cytokine whose action is mediated by c-met, a glycoproteic receptor with tyrosine kinase activity which transduces its multiple biological activities including cell proliferation, motility and differentiation. During embryonic development HGF acts as a morphogenetic factor as previously demonstrated for metanephric and lung development. Recently, culturing male genital ridges, we demonstrated that HGF is able to support in vitro testicular cord formation. In the present paper we report the expression pattern of the HGF gene during embryonic testis development and the multiple roles exerted by this factor during the morphogenesis of this organ. Northern blot analysis reveals a positive signal in urogenital ridges isolated from 11.5 days post coitum (dpc) embryos and in testes isolated from 13.5 and 15.5 dpc male embryos. On the contrary HGF mRNA is undetectable in ovaries isolated from 13.5 and 15.5 dpc embryos. Moreover, we demonstrate that HGF is synthesized and secreted by the male gonad and is biologically active. These data indicate a male specific biological function of HGF during embryonic gonadal development. This hypothesis is supported by the in vitro demonstration that HGF acts as a migratory factor for male mesonephric cells which is a male specific event. In addition we demonstrate that during testicular development, HGF acts as a morphogenetic factor able to reorganize dissociated testicular cells which, under HGF stimulation, form a tridimensional network of cord-like structures. Finally, we demonstrate that HGF induces testicular cell proliferation in this way being responsible for the size increase of the testis. All together the data presented in this paper demonstrate that HGF is expressed during the embryonic development of the testis and clarify the multiple roles exerted by this factor during the morphogenesis of the male gonad

    Vitamin A metabolism in cultured somatic cells from rat testis

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    Sertoli and peritubular myoid cells, the somatic cells of the seminiferous tubule, support growth and differentiation of developing germ cells. This action strictly depends on the availability of in situ synthesized retinoic acid and we have previously documented the ability of Sertoli, but not peritubular cell extracts, to support the oxidation of retinol to retinoic acid. Using primary cultures of somatic cells treated with a physiological concentration of free retinol, we show here that the same is essentially true also for whole cultured cells. Sertoli cells are capable of producing not only retinoic acid, but are also the major site of retinyl ester (mainly, retinyl palmitate) formation. Compared with retinyl palmitate accumulation, retinoic acid synthesis was both faster and positively influenced by prior exposure to retinol. This increase in retinoic acid synthesis was further augmented by treatment with the retinoic acid catabolic inhibitor liarozole, thus indicating that enhanced synthesis, rather than reduced catabolism, is responsible for such an effect. Myoid cells had a higher capacity to incorporate exogenously supplied retinol, yet retinoic acid synthesis, and even more so retinyl palmitate formation, were considerably lower than in Sertoli cells. Retinoic acid synthesis in myoid cells was not only depressed, but also very little influenced by prior retinol exposure and totally insensitive to liarozole. These data further support the view that myoid cells are involved in retinol uptake from the blood and its transfer to other cells, rather than in metabolic interconversion or long-term storage of vitamin A, two processes that mainly take place in Sertoli cells

    Hepatocyte growth factor modulates in vitro survival and proliferation of germ cells during postnatal testis development

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    The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a pleiotropic cytokine that influences mitogenesis, motility and differentiation of many different cell types by its tyrosine kinase receptor c-Met. We previously demonstrated that the c-Met/HGF systern is present and functionally active during postnatal testis development. We found also that spermatozoa express c-Met and that HGF has a positive effect on the maintenance of sperm motility. In the present paper, we extend our study on the germ cells at different stages of differentiation during the postnatal development of the testis. We demonstrate that c-met is present in rat spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids and that HGF significantly increases spermatogonial proliferation in 8- to 10-day-old prepubertal rats. At this age HGF does not affect Sertoli cells and peritubular myoid cells proliferation. In addition, we studied the effect of the factor on germ cell apoptosis and we show that HGF prevents the genii cell apoptotic process. We also studied the effect of HGF on 18- to 20-day-old and 28- to 30-day-old rat testes. At these ages also the factor significantly increases genii cell duplication and decreases the number of apoptotic cells. However, the effect on programmed cell death is higher in the 8- to 10-day-old rats and declines in the older animals. In conclusion, we report that rat genii cells (spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids) express c-met and that HGF modulates genii cell proliferating activity and apoptosis in vitro. These data indicate that the c-Met/HGF system is involved in male germ cell homeostasis and, consequently, has a role in mate fertility

    Impairment of the autophagic flux in astrocytes intoxicated by trimethyltin

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    Autophagy is a lysosomal catabolic route for protein aggregates and damaged organelles which in different stress conditions, such as starvation, generally improves cell survival. An impairment of this degradation pathway has been reported to occur in many neurodegenerative processes. Trimethyltin (TMT) is a potent neurotoxin present as an environmental contaminant causing tremors, seizures and learning impairment in intoxicated subjects. The present data show that in rat primary astrocytes autophagic vesicles (AVs) appeared after few hours of TMT treatment. The analysis of the autophagic flux in TMT-treated astrocytes was consistent with a block of the late stages of autophagy and was accompanied by a progressive accumulation of the microtubule associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) and of p62/SQSTM1. Interestingly, an increased immunoreactivity for p62/SQSTM1 was also observed in hippocampal astrocytes detected in brain slices of TMT-intoxicated rats. The time-lapse recordings of AVs in EGFP-mCherry-LC3B transfected astrocytes demonstrated a reduced mobility of autophagosomes after TMT exposure respect to control cells. The observed block of the autophagic flux cannot be overcome by known autophagy inducers such as rapamycin or 0.5mM lithium. Although ineffective when used at 0.5mM, lithium at higher concentrations (2mM) was able to protect astrocyte cultures from TMT toxicity. This effect correlated well with its ability to determine the phosphorylation/inactivation of glycogen kinase synthase-3β (GSK-3β)

    Simulated microgravity triggers epithelial mesenchymal transition in human keratinocytes

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    The microgravitational environment is known to affect the cellular behaviour inducing modulation of gene expression and enzymatic activities, epigenetic modifications and alterations of the structural organization. Simulated microgravity, obtained in the laboratory setting through the use of a Random Positioning Machine (RPM), represents a well recognized and useful tool for the experimental studies of the cellular adaptations and molecular changes in response to weightlessness. Short exposure of cultured human keratinocytes to the RPM microgravity influences the cellular circadian clock oscillation. Therefore, here we searched for changes on the regenerative ability and response to tissue damage of human epidermal cells through the analysis of the effects of the simulated microgravity on the re-epithelialization phase of the repair and wound healing process. Combining morphological, biochemical and molecular approaches, we found that the simulated microgravity exposure of human keratinocytes promotes a migratory behavior and triggers the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) through expression of the typical EMT transcription factors and markers, such as Snail1, Snail2 and ZEB2, metalloproteases, mesenchymal adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal components

    Decellularized Human Dermal Matrix as a Biological Scaffold for Cardiac Repair and Regeneration.

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    The complex and highly organized environment in which cells reside consists primarily of the extracellular matrix (ECM) that delivers biological signals and physical stimuli to resident cells. In the native myocardium, the ECM contributes to both heart compliance and cardiomyocyte maturation and function. Thus, myocardium regeneration cannot be accomplished if cardiac ECM is not restored. We hypothesize that decellularized human skin might make an easily accessible and viable alternate biological scaffold for cardiac tissue engineering (CTE). To test our hypothesis, we decellularized specimens of both human skin and human myocardium and analyzed and compared their composition by histological methods and quantitative assays. Decellularized dermal matrix was then cut into 600-mm-thick sections and either tested by uniaxial tensile stretching to characterize its mechanical behavior or used as three-dimensional scaffold to assess its capability to support regeneration by resident cardiac progenitor cells (hCPCs) in vitro. Histological and quantitative analyses of the dermal matrix provided evidence of both effective decellularization with preserved tissue architecture and retention of ECM proteins and growth factors typical of cardiac matrix. Further, the elastic modulus of the dermal matrix resulted comparable with that reported in literature for the human myocardium and, when tested in vitro, dermal matrix resulted a comfortable and protective substrate promoting and supporting hCPC engraftment, survival and cardiomyogenic potential. Our study provides compelling evidence that dermal matrix holds promise as a fully autologous and cost-effective biological scaffold for CTE

    Vitamin A modulation of basement membrane production by purified testicular myoid cells

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    Purified myoid cells, isolated from prepubertal rat testes, cultured in a chemically defined medium for up to I week do not change their metabolic activities, evaluated as protein synthesis and secretion, during the culture time. We report that fibronectin, collagen IV, and laminin are synthesized and secreted by myoid cells as demonstrated by immunocytochemical and biochemical methods. The deposition of all three proteins was spotty, with different regional localizations. The effect of vitamin A on the synthesis and the secretion of the basement membrane components was also evaluated. Retinol supplementation induces a higher synthesis of fibronectin and laminin, whereas it does not change collagen IV synthesis and secretion. The secretion of the other two molecules is differentially regulated by retinol; in fact fibronectin secretion is increased, whereas laminin secretion is reduced. Similar results were obtained utilizing retinoic acid. The data we report in this paper show, for the first time, that purified testicular myoid cells synthesize and secrete fibronectin, collagen IV, and laminin and that synthesis and secretion of these components of the basement membrane are regulated by retinol. These findings reveal a new effect of vitamin A in the regulation of mammalian spermatogenesis
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