Telomerase activity is essential for protection of cells against the telomere erosion that occurs with each round of cell replication, and thus appears to play a role in the indefinite replication potential of some, but not all, eukaryotic cells. In this regard, some tissues contain stem cells that have a long proliferative life-span and are capable of regenerating or renewing the somatic epithelial cell population within the tissue. Because the adult seminal vesicle exhibits the ability to regenerate during androgen- replacement after castration, we hypothesized that a pool of cells with regenerating potential is present in the adult seminal vesicle, which expresses telomerase activity. In this study, we used a highly sensitive PCR- based telomerase assay [the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay] to detect telomerase activity in rat seminal vesicle. Our results show that telomerase activity is, indeed, present in the normal adult rat seminal vesicle, but that, in the presence of seminal vesicle fluid, telomerase activity cannot be detected. In fact, seminal vesicle fluid was found to contain some factor(s) that is inhibitory for the TRAP assay. In addition, we found that telomerase activity in the seminal vesicle changes with age and is regionally distributed within the distal, intermediate, and proximal segments of the duct. These results suggest that as is the case for the rat prostate, a population of telomerase-positive cells is present within the adult rat seminal vesicle, and thereby, this organ retains throughout life the potential to regenerate in response to androgen replacement following castration-induced apoptotic cell death.
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