Serotonergic inhibition of rat Leydig cell function by propranolol.

PMID 8391422


The beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol binds to serotonin (5HT) receptors (5HT1B > 5HT1A > 5HT2) in brain membranes. We have recently demonstrated that 5HT acts through 5HT2 receptors in rat Leydig cells to release CRF, which, in turn, inhibits hCG-stimulated cAMP production and steroidogenesis. These observations prompted us to study the effects of propranolol on CRF secretion and cAMP and testosterone production in cultured rat Leydig cells. Treatment with (-)propranolol increased CRF release and inhibited basal and hCG-stimulated cAMP and steroidogenesis, with effects evident at 0.1 microM, an IC50 of 6 microM, and reduction of stimulated levels to near basal at 100 microM. These effects of the drug were prevented by pretreatment of cultures with the 5HT2 receptor antagonist ketanserin or a CRF antagonist or antiserum. Furthermore, propranolol increased the level of 5HT in the incubation medium of cultured Leydig cells. The (+)isomer of propranolol had minor effects on these parameters. Increasing concentrations of (-)propranolol displaced the binding of [125I] +/- 1-[2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophyryl]-2-amino propane hydrochloride (DOI), a selective 5HT2 ligand, to Leydig cell membranes (IC50, 0.2 microM), and (+)propanolol showed weaker potency. The inhibitory actions of propranolol were exerted through its blockade of the Leydig cell 5HT2 low affinity receptor, which has functional properties of an autoreceptor, with consequent increases in 5HT and stimulation of CRF release through 5HT action at the high affinity site. The serotonergic actions of propranolol were prevented by DOI, an inhibitor of 5HT actions at the high affinity site. In addition, the propranolol-induced blockade of the low affinity site further increased the cAMP and steroidogenic responses to gonadotropin over those observed with DOI treatment alone. These studies demonstrate that propranolol acts as an antagonist at the Leydig cell low affinity 5HT2 receptor and stimulates CRF release via a serotonergic mechanism, with consequent inhibition of cAMP generation and steroidogenesis. This serotonergic action of the drug could contribute to the impairment of sexual function reported during propranolol treatment in man.

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(±)-Propranolol hydrochloride, ≥99% (TLC), powder
C16H21NO2 · HCl