Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in Reproduction 140 (August 1, 2010), pp. 319-329; doi: 10.1530/REP-09-0456 Copyright © 2010 by the Society for Reproduction and Fertility; published by BioScientifica. Used by permission.


Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) plays a role in both angiogenesis and seminiferous cord formation, and alternative splicing of the Vegfa gene produces both proangiogenic isoforms and antiangiogenic isoforms (B-isoforms). The objectives of this study were to evaluate the expression of pro- and antiangiogenic isoforms during testis development and to determine the role of VEGFA isoforms in testis morphogenesis. Quantitative RT-PCR determined that Vegfa_165b mRNA was most abundant between embryonic days 13.5 and 16 (E13.5 and 16; P < 0.05). Compared with ovarian mRNA levels, Vegfa_120 was more abundant at E13–14 (P < 0.05), Vegfa_164 was less abundant at E13 (P < 0.05), and Vegfa_165b tended to be less abundant at E13 (P < 0.09) in testes. Immunohistochemical staining localized antiangiogenic isoforms to subsets of germ cells at E14–16, and western blot analysis revealed similar protein levels for VEGFA_165B, VEGFA_189B, and VEGFA_206B at this time point. Treatment of E13 organ culture testes with VEGFA_120, VEGFA_164, and an antibody to antiangiogenic isoforms (anti-VEGFAxxxB) resulted in less organized and defined seminiferous cords compared with paired controls. In addition, 50 ng/ml VEGFA_120 and VEGFA_164 treatments increased vascular density in cultured testes by 60 and 48% respectively, and treatment with VEGFAxxxB antibody increased vascular density by 76% in testes (0.5 ng/ml) and 81% in ovaries (5 ng/ml) compared with controls (P < 0.05). In conclusion, both pro- and antiangiogenic VEGFA isoforms are involved in the development of vasculature and seminiferous cords in rat testes, and differential expression of these isoforms may be important for normal gonadal development.