It is well established that testosterone and neuropeptide Y (NPY), via its Y1 receptor (Y1R), are involved in the central control of the gonadotrope axis in male rats. Here we examined if a similar interaction also occurs in the male peripheral reproductive target organ, the testes. Expression of the Y1R transcript and protein and changes in testicular microcirculation were studied in normal rats and 12 days following hypophysectomy with and without testosterone substitution (1 or 25 mg s.c.). In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed strong expression of, respectively, Y1R messenger RNA (Y1R mRNA) and Y1R-like immunoreactivity (Y1R-LI) in vascular smooth muscles in the testes of control and hypophysectomized rats treated with testosterone, but was not seen without testosterone substitution. In parallel, control animals and hypophysectomized, testosterone-supplemented rats showed a strong (approximately 40%) decrease in testicular blood flow following intratesticular (i.t.) injection of the Y1-R agonists, [Leu(31), Pro(34)]NPY, [D-Arg(25)]NPY or NPY, an effect which was completely blocked by prior intravenous administration of the Y1R antagonist, BIBP3226. No significant change in testicular blood flow following i.t. injection of NPY was seen in hypophysectomized rats without testosterone substitution. These findings suggest that the high levels of Y1R mRNA and Y1R-LI in the testes reflect expression of functional Y1Rs mediating vasoconstriction, and that testosterone regulates expression of functional Y1Rs.
2008. Vol. 88, no 3, 216-226 p.