Journal Article

Interleukin-6 regulation of kappa opioid receptor gene expression in primary Sertoli cells

Three classes of opioid receptors—mu, delta, and kappa—mediate physiological and pharmacological functions of the endogenous opioid peptides and exogenous opioid compounds in the central nervous system (CNS), as well as in peripheral tissues including the immune system. Using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis, we show that freshly isolated and highly purified somatic (Sertoli and Leydig) and specific germ (spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes, round, and elongating spermatids) cells of the rat testis differentially express the mRNAs for these opioid receptor genes. Furthermore, to identify a functional mechanism for cytokine regulation of testicular opioid receptor gene expression, we employed primary Sertoli cells as a model system. In a semiquantitative PCR analysis using the S16 ribosomal RNA gene as an internal control, we show that interleukin-6 reduces kappa opioid receptor mRNA levels from 6 to 24 h of treatment in primary Sertoli cells. This regulation requires new RNA and protein synthesis and is partially mediated by the protein kinase A pathway. These findings are consistent with a role for the cytokine and opioid signaling pathways in Sertoli cellular function and the interaction that exists between the opioid and the immune systems in the CNS.