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AJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 297  |  Issue: 2  |  Page No.: 375 - 383

Alteration in plasma testosterone levels in male mice lacking soluble epoxide hydrolase

A Luria, C Morisseau, H. J Tsai, J Yang, B Inceoglu, B De Taeye, S. M Watkins, M. M Wiest, J. B German and B. D. Hammock

Abstract

Soluble epoxide hydrolase (Ephx2, sEH) is a bifunctional enzyme with COOH-terminal hydrolase and NH2-terminal phosphatase activities. sEH converts epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) to dihydroxyeicosatrienoic acids (DHETs), and the phosphatase activity is suggested to be involved in cholesterol metabolism. EETs participate in a wide range of biological functions, including regulation of vascular tone, renal tubular transport, cardiac contractility, and inflammation. Inhibition of sEH is a potential approach for enhancing the biological activity of EETs. Therefore, disruption of sEH activity is becoming an attractive therapeutic target for both cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. To define the physiological role of sEH, we characterized a knockout mouse colony lacking expression of the Ephx2 gene. Lack of sEH enzyme is characterized by elevation of EET to DHET ratios in both the linoleate and arachidonate series in plasma and tissues of both female and male mice. In male mice, this lack of expression was also associated with decreased plasma testosterone levels, sperm count, and testicular size. However, this genotype was still able to sire litters. Plasma cholesterol levels also declined in this genotype. Behavior tests such as anxiety-like behavior and hedonic response were also examined in Ephx2-null and WT mice, as all can be related to hormonal changes. Null mice showed a level of anxiety with a decreased hedonic response. In conclusion, this study provides a broad biochemical, physiological, and behavioral characterization of the Ephx2-null mouse colony and suggests a mechanism by which sEH and its substrates may regulate circulating levels of testosterone through cholesterol biosynthesis and metabolism.

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