Enzymes responsible for the posttranslational processing of precursor proteins to form alpha-amidated peptide hormones require the availability of several cofactors, including zinc, copper, and ascorbic acid. For this reason, we studied the effects of 6 weeks of a zinc-deficient diet (ZD1; 1 microgram zinc per g diet), pair-feeding (PF), and marginal zinc deficiency (ZD6; 6 micrograms zinc per g diet) compared to a control diet (36 micrograms/g zinc) on the conversion of prepro-TRH to TRH in epididymides, testes, prostate, pancreas, and heart of young adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats. In the epididymis, severe zinc deficiency (ZD1 diet) reduced TRH and TRH-like peptides to undetectable levels. In ZD6 animals, TRH was selectively inhibited 80%, while pair-feeding increased all of these peptide levels compared to controls. A similar effect of zinc deficiency on the TRH precursor peptides was observed. A quantitative loss of TRH from the testes of ZD1 was also observed. Zinc deficiency results in a substantial reduction in body weight and testosterone production in male rats. Exogenous testosterone (T) supplementation of ZD1 rats resulted in a selective increase in the TRH concentration of the epididymis but not of the heart. The change in steady-state levels of TRH precursor peptides in the hearts of the ZD1+T rats was consistent with a reduction in the activity of the zinc-dependent carboxypeptidase H enzyme. We conclude that severe zinc deficiency inhibits TRH biosynthesis in reproductive tissues of the male rat due to the combined effects of hypogonadism and inhibition of the zinc-dependent carboxypeptidase H.
Pekary AE, Lukaski HC, Mena I, Smith SM, Bhasin S, Hershman JM. Testosterone increases TRH biosynthesis in epididymis but not heart of zinc-deficient rats. Peptides. 1993 March Endocrinology Research Laboratory, Veterans Administration Wadsworth Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90073.