Propylthiouracil-induced hypothyroidism delays apoptosis during the first wave of spermatogenesis
Mammalian germ cell apoptosis plays a key role in controlling the correct number of germ cells supported by Sertoli cells during the first wave of spermatogenesis in mammalian puberty. However, little is known about hormonal factors that could influence the rate of germ cell apoptosis during puberty or adulthood. In this work we evaluate germ cell apoptosis under hypothyroidism induced by goitrogen propylthiouracil (PTU) during the first wave of spermatogenesis. Neonatally administered PTU promoted a delay in the differentiation of Sertoli cells as evaluated by the expression of clusterin using immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR. Clusterin had different expression levels in control and PTU-treated animals, but under both conditions the highest levels were found in 35-day-old rats. In addition, clusterin displayed a cytoplasmic localization in control testes, but appeared located in the nucleus in PTU-treated animals. The wave of apoptosis (determined by caspase activity and quantification of apoptotic cells) characteristic of the first round of spermatogenesis was delayed by at least 10 days in these animals. The expression levels of proapoptotic genes like BAX or BAD were different between control and PTU-treated rats; although in both groups the highest level was found at the same age (days). Thus our results indicate that the characteristic pubertal apoptotic wave during rat spermatogenesis is delayed in neonatal hypothyroid rats.