Tissue type (t) and urokinase type (u) plasminogen activators (PAs) have been shown to be secreted by Sertoli cells in the seminiferous tubules in a cyclic fashion and to be dependent upon FSH stimulation or upon the presence of adjacent spermatogenic cells. In the present study we have analyzed the production of PAs by retinoid-treated rat Sertoli cells. In addition, because retinoids modulate the response of Sertoli cells to FSH either potentiating or antagonizing its action, we have investigated a possible modulation of FSH-stimulated PA production. Under basal conditions, Sertoli cells, isolated from prepubertal rats, secrete predominantly uPA. A significant dose-dependent inhibition of uPA activity was observed after treatment with retinol, while no significant effect was detected upon tPA secretion. When Sertoli cells were cultured in the presence of 0.25 μM retinol, a significant inhibition of uPA activity was evident after 16 h of treatment and reached approximately 80% after 48 h of treatment. The analysis of the mRNA levels revealed that retinol induces an inhibition of the steady-state levels of uPA mRNA without affecting those of tPA. Moreover, retinol affected uPA mRNA levels by increasing mRNA turnover. The effect of retinoids on Sertoli cells isolated from older animals was less evident, possibly due to the reduced production of uPA with the increase of age of the donor animals. Our results on the effect of retinoids upon Sertoli cell uPA production reinforce the importance of retinoids in the control of postnatal testis development.
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