Basic Research Paper
Sexual dimorphism of autophagy in Syrian hamster Harderian gland culminates in a holocrine secretion in female glands
Volume 5, Issue 7
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October 1, 2009
Pages 1004 - 1017http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/auto.5.7.9610
Authors: Ignacio Vega-Naredo, Beatriz Caballero, Verónica Sierra, Covadonga Huidobro-Fernández, David de Gonzalo-Calvo, Marina García-Macia, Delio Tolivia, María Josefa Rodríguez-Colunga and Ana Coto-Montes View affiliations
The Syrian hamster Harderian gland (HG) has a large porphyrin metabolism with a sexual dimorphism, showing male HGs much lower porphyrin concentrations than female glands. Damage derived from this production of porphyrins, displayed by reactive oxygen species, forces the gland to develop morphological changes that must have a physiological significance. Thus, oxidative stress is present in two states: mild oxidative stress in male HGs and extreme oxidative stress in female HGs. Cathepsins data gave indirect indications about the presence of programmed cell death affecting the lysosomal pathway, especially in female HGs, which showed an accumulation of autophagic bodies. Our results showed different degrees of autophagy in Syrian hamster HGs depending on sex and probably controlled by the redox-sensitive transcription factors: NF-kappaB and p53. The discovery of these sexual dimorphisms in redox signaling and in autophagy corroborates previous findings and underlines the key role of reactive oxygen species in the regulation of autophagy. In addition, in this paper we propose a physiological significance for these phenomena: male HGs develop a survival autophagy, while in female HGs, autophagy culminates in a detachment-derived cell death that plays a central role in its secretory activity, leading to a massive glandular secretion.