Prostaglandins (PGs), particularly PGE2, have been implicated in the control of testicular steroidogenesis, spermatogenesis, and local immunity. However, virtually nothing is known about the expression or activity of the prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthases (PTGSs; also referred to as the cyclooxygenases), the specific rate-limiting enzymes responsible for PG production, in the adult testis. This activity was investigated in rats under normal conditions and during lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation using quantitative real-time PCR, in situ hybridization, Western blotting, and PGE2 measurements by ELISA. The mRNA for both the “constitutive” Ptgs1 and the “inducible” Ptgs2 forms was detected in multiple testicular cell types. Testicular Ptgs2 expression was substantially higher than that of Ptgs1, and testicular production of PGE2 in vitro was found to be suppressed by a specific PTGS2 inhibitor (NS-398), but not by an inhibitor of PTGS1. Further investigation indicated that 1) PGE2 production in the adult testis is attributable to constitutive expression of PTGS2 by somatic (Leydig cells and Sertoli cells) and spermatogenic cells; 2) testicular macrophages constitutively produce relatively low levels of PTGS2 and PGE2 but are the only cell type to respond significantly to an inflammatory stimulus by increasing production of PGE2; and 3) testicular PTGS2 expression and intratesticular PGE2 levels are only marginally affected by acute inflammation. These data point toward a previously unanticipated maintenance role for the “inducible” PTGS2 enzyme in normal testicular function, as well as an anomalous response of testicular PTGS2 to inflammatory stimuli. Both observations are consistent with the reduced capacity of the testis to initiate and support inflammatory reactions.
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Vol. 76 • No. 5