Prenatal and lactation nicotine exposure affects Sertoli cell and gonadotropin levels in rats
Paccola, C. C. [UNIFESP]
Miraglia, S. M. [UNIFESP]
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Nicotine is largely consumed in the world as a component of cigarettes. It can cross the placenta and reach the milk of smoking mothers. This drug induces apoptosis, affects sex hormone secretion, and leads to male infertility. To investigate the exposure to nicotine during the whole intrauterine and lactation phases in Sertoli cells, pregnant rats received nicotine (2 mg/kg per day) through osmotic minipumps. Male offsprings (30, 60, and 90 days old) had blood collected for hormonal analysis (FSH and LH) and their testes submitted for histophatological study, analysis of the frequency of the stages of seminiferous epithelium cycle, immunolabeling of apoptotic epithelial cells (TUNEL and Fas/FasL), analysis of the function and structure of Sertoli cells (respectively using transferrin and vimentin immunolabeling), and analysis of Sertoli-germ cell junctional molecule (beta-catenin immunolabeling). The exposure to nicotine increased the FSH and LH plasmatic levels in adult rats. Although nicotine had not changed the number of apoptotic cells, neither in Fas nor FasL expression, it provoked an intense sloughing of epithelial cells and also altered the frequency of some stages of the seminiferous epithelium cycle. Transferrin and beta-catenin expressions were not changed, but vimentin was significantly reduced in the early stages of the seminiferous cycle of the nicotine-exposed adult rats. Thus, we concluded that nicotine exposure during all gestational and lactation periods affects the structure of Sertoli cells by events causing intense germ cell sloughing observed in the tubular lumen and can compromise the fertility of the offspring.
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