The synthesis of prostanoids by the Sertoli cell was assessed as part of a study on the role of vitamin E in maintaining spermatogenesis. Analyses of eicosanoid synthesis from endogenous substrate were carried out using freshly isolated Sertoli-cell-enriched preparations from both pre-pubertal and adult rats fed purified diets with and without vitamin E, as well as cells carried in primary culture. Freshly isolated cells from both the immature and fully differentiated adult testes produced PGI2 (prostaglandin I2) and PGE2, but PGF2 alpha was produced only by cells of the adult vitamin E-deficient rat. Cells from adult controls synthesized PGF2 alpha after primary culture. In contrast with other hormone responses of this cell, which are refractory in the adult, FSH (follitropin) potentiated prostaglandin production by freshly isolated cells of both immature and adult rats. The FSH response of Sertoli cells from immature animals did not change after primary culture. Adult cells were refractory to the hormone after culture, but the total amounts of prostaglandins produced by these cells were 10-fold higher than by either freshly isolated or cells of the immature in culture. Analogues of cyclic AMP did not potentiate prostaglandin synthesis. However, mepacrine, a phospholipase inhibitor, blocked the FSH effect. The finding that Sertoli cells synthesize prostaglandins and FSH enhances prostaglandin production implicates a potential role for eicosanoids in spermatogenesis and suggests that vitamin E may affect intratesticular regulators.

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