Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) are growth-regulatory molecules that stimulate chemotaxis, proliferation and metabolism primarily of cells of mesenchymal origin. In this study, we found high levels of PDGFs and PDGFs receptors (PDGFRs) mRNAs, and specific immunostaining for the corresponding proteins in the rat testis. PDGFs and PDGFRs expression was shown to be developmentally regulated and tissue specific. Expression of PDGFs and PDGFRs genes was observed in whole testis RNA 2 d before birth, increased through postnatal day 5 and fell to low levels in adult. The predominant cell population expressing transcripts of the PDGFs and PDGFRs genes during prenatal and early postnatal periods were Sertoli cells and peritubular myoid cells (PMC) or their precursors, respectively, while in adult animals PDGFs and PDGFRs were confined in Leydig cells. We also found that early postnatal Sertoli cells produce PDGF-like substances and that this production is inhibited dose dependently by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The expression of PDGFRs by PMC and of PDGFs by Sertoli cells corresponds in temporal sequence to the developmental period of PMC proliferation and migration from the interstitium to the peritubulum. Moreover, we observed that all the PDGF isoforms and the medium conditioned by early postnatal Sertoli cells show a strong chemotactic activity for PMC which is inhibited by anti-PDGF antibodies. These data indicate that, through the spatiotemporal pattern of PDGF ligands and receptors expression, PDGF may play a role in testicular development and homeostasis.

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