An official journal of the Society for Biology of Reproduction and the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn

June 2014 (No. 2)

Expression of urocortin and its receptors in the rat epididymis

Adriana De Luca a,*, Giovanna Liguori a, Caterina Squillacioti a, Salvatore Paino b, Giuseppe Germano a, Sabrina Alì a, Nicola Mirabella a

a Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Naples Federico II, Via Veterinaria 1, I-80137 Naples, Italy

b Department of Sciences of Animal Production, University of Basilicata, Via Nazario Sauro, I-85100 Potenza, Italy

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Urocortin (UCN; 40 aa) is a corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH)-related peptide. The biological actions of CRH family peptides are mediated by two types of G-protein-coupled receptors, CRH type 1 receptor (CRHR1) and CRH type 2 receptor (CRHR2). The biological effects of the peptides are mediated and modulated not only by CRH receptors but also by a highly conserved CRH-binding protein (CRHBP). The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression of UCN, CRHR1, CRHR2 and CRHBP by immunohistochemistry, Western blot, RT-PCR and real-time RT-PCR in the rat epididymis. Urocortin, CRHR1 and CRHR2, but not CRHBP, were expressed in all segments of the rat epididymis. Specifically, UCN- and CRHR2-immunoreactivities (IRs) were distributed in epididymal epithelial cells of the caput, corpus and cauda. CRHR1-IR was found in the fibromuscular cells surrounding the epididymal duct and in the smooth musculature of the blood vessels throughout the organ. UCN and CRHR2 mRNA expression levels were higher in the caput and corpus than in the cauda, while CRHR1 mRNA level was higher in the cauda than those in the caput and corpus. In summary, UCN, CRHR1 and CRHR2 are expressed in the rat epididymis. It is suggested that CRH-related peptides might play multiple roles in the maturation and storage of spermatozoa.

Reproductive Biology 2014 14 2: 140-147.

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