Reserpine, a drug that depletes central monoamines, has been used as an antipsychotic and arterial hypotensive, and to model depression in animals. The present study analyzed, in adolescent male rats, the effects of chronic reserpine treatment on molecular indexes of testicular function. A week after termination of the treatment (4 doses of 0,0 or 1,0 mg/Kg/every 48 h) the animals were tested for anxiety response and depression patterns in an elevated plus maze. They were then euthanized, their testes dissected, fixed and embedded in paraffin to obtain blocks. Histological sections (6 μm) were obtained and used to measure the diameter of seminiferous tubules and the expression in Leydig cells of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), Caspase-3 and androgen receptors, by immunohistochemistry. Behavioral results indicated significant alterations in anxiety responses and a significant motor depression (e.g., greater latency to escape from the white sector). There were no differences between groups in the diameter of seminiferous tubules nor in the androgen receptors positivity. Reserpine-treated animals, however, exhibited more BDNF and PCNA positive cells, and less positive Caspase-3 cells in Leydig cells, than control animals. The results corroborate the efficacy of reserpine to repro- duce some of the behavioral components of depression. The drug, however, does not seem to exert in rats the same effects on testicular function that have been found in humans diagnosed with depression. Furthermore the drug seems to enhance some aspects of testicular function related to Leydig cells function in rats.
KEY WORDS: Testicles; Rats; BDNF; PCNA; Caspase.