Reproduction (Cambridge, England)

Free and sulfated steroids secretion in postpubertal boars (Sus scrofa domestica).

PMID 24961601


Sulfated steroids have been traditionally regarded as inactive metabolites. However, they may also serve as precursors for the production of active free steroids in target cells. In this study, we used the boar as a model to study the metabolism, transport, and function of steroid sulfates due to their high production in the porcine testicular-epididymal compartment, of which the role is unknown. To characterize the secretion of free and sulfated steroids, plasma samples were collected from six postpubertal boars over 6  h every 20  min from the jugular vein. Long-term secretion profiles were also established in seven boars stimulated with human chorionic gonadotropin. To directly characterize the testicular output, samples were collected from superficial testicular arterial and venous blood vessels. Testosterone, androstenedione and sulfated pregnenolone, DHEA, estrone (E1), and estradiol-17β (E2) were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Free E1 and E2 were measured by RIA. Irrespective of a high variability between individuals, the results suggest that i) all steroids assessed are primarily produced in the testis, ii) they exhibit similar profiles pointing to a pulsatile secretion with low frequency (three to five pulses per day), and iii) after synthesis at least a major proportion is immediately released into peripheral circulation. The fact that all steroid sulfates assessed are original testicular products and their high correlations with one another suggest their role as being intermediates of testicular steroidogenesis rather than as being inactivated end products. Moreover, a substantial use of sulfated steroids in porcine testicular steroidogenesis would assign a crucial regulatory role to steroid sulfatase, which is highly expressed in Leydig cells.

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