Diabetes alters aromatase enzyme levels in gonadal tissues of rats

Burul-Bozkurt N., Pekiner C., Kelicen P.

NAUNYN-SCHMIEDEBERGS ARCHIVES OF PHARMACOLOGY, vol.382, no.1, pp.33-41, 2010 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with increased risk of reproductive problems. Estrogens have important roles in reproductive processes in both genders. Aromatase catalyzes the conversion of androgens to estrogens and is expressed in a variety of tissues. Although it is known that insulin regulate the activity of aromatase, there are few data about the effects of diabetes on this enzyme. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of experimental diabetes on aromatase expression levels in ovary, testis, uterus, and vas deferens tissues of female and male rats. Rats were injected with streptozotocin to induce diabetes. At the end of 4 and 12 weeks, tissue homogenates were prepared and evaluated for aromatase proteins by western blot. Uterus and vas deferens smooth muscle responses were also evaluated. Aromatase expression levels in ovary were significantly decreased both in 4 and 12 weeks of diabetes. In testis, enzyme levels were not altered at 4 weeks, but significantly decreased at 12 weeks of diabetes. In uterus and vas deferens tissues, no significant differences were observed at aromatase immunoreactivity but uterus and vas deferens smooth muscle responses were altered. These results indicated for the first time that DM altered the expression levels of aromatase both in ovary and testis but did not affect enzyme levels in uterus and vas deferens tissues. Altered smooth muscle responses did not correlate with tissue aromatase levels. Altogether, these findings lead us to suggest that aromatase might be an important target molecule in sexual dysfunction seen in DM.