Endothelin and endothelin receptors A and B in the human testis.
ABSTRACT Human testicular capillaries interconnect Leydig cells and seminiferous tubules. Microcirculation and blood flow are therefore essential for the maintenance of spermatogenesis. The expression and the localisation of ET (endothelin) and its receptors in testicular tissue, in seminiferous tubules and in human testicular capillaries were studied. ET-1 mRNA was detected in whole testicular tissue and in seminiferous tubules whereas isolated testicular capillaries were negative. Big ET-1 (Big endothelin 1) and ET peptides were localised in Leydig and Sertoli cells whereas interstitial and intramural capillaries (within the lamina propria) remained unstained. ET was also found in mature spermatids. ET-A (endothelin receptor A) mRNA was detected in seminiferous tubules and whole testicular tissue whereas testicular blood vessels were negative. ET-A immunostaining was displayed in Leydig and Sertoli cells and in spermatids. ET-B (endothelin receptor B) mRNA was detected in whole testicular tissue, seminiferous tubules and in testicular capillaries. ET-B peptide was prominent in Leydig cells, peritubular cells, endothelial cells and pericytes of interstitial and intramural capillaries as well as in vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells. From these results we conclude that ET produced in Leydig and Sertoli cells can act in a paracrine manner via ET-B on the human testicular microvasculature and the peritubular cells. The presence of both ET-A and ET-B in Leydig cells and of ET-A in Sertoli cells leads to the assumption that ET could influence these cells as an autocrine factor.