Experimental research
Maturational changes in connexin 43 expression in the seminiferous tubules may depend on thyroid hormone action
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Submission date: 2010-11-08
Final revision date: 2011-01-05
Acceptance date: 2011-02-05
Online publication date: 2013-02-18
Publication date: 2013-02-28
Arch Med Sci 2013;9(1):139–145
Introduction: Connexin 43 (Cx43) mediates the effect of thyroid hormone on Sertoli cell maturation in vitro. We investigated the influence of triiodothyronine (T3) administration on Cx43 expression in relation to the progress in seminiferous tubule maturation.
Material and methods: Male rats were daily injected with 100 µg T3/kg body weight from birth until postnatal day (pnd) 5 (transient treatment – tT3) or until pnd 15 (continuous treatment – cT3) or solvent – control (C). On pnd 16 serum hormone levels, body and testes weight, seminiferous tubule morphometry, Cx43 immunostaining and germ cell degeneration were investigated. Cx43 expression was also assessed in six 50-day-old adult untreated rats.
Result: tT3 increased 2.6-fold serum level of T3, testes weight, and seminiferous tubule diameter, and induced maturation-like dislocation of Cx43 expression from the apical to the peripheral region of Sertoli cell cytoplasm. In addition, incidence of Cx43-positive tubules declined from 86% in C to 46% after tT3, being similar to the adult value (30% of tubules Cx43-positive). In turn, cT3 increased serum T3 level 12-fold, and decreased body weight. Seminiferous tubules became shortened and distended, Sertoli cell cytoplasm vacuolated, Cx43 expression had minimal intensity and germ cell degeneration increased.
Conclusions: Cx43 might intermediate a short and transient stimulatory effect of T3 on seminiferous tubule maturation that disappeared together with exposure to the toxic effect of a continuously high level of the hormone.