Effects of capsaicin on testis ghrelin expression in mice

Biotech Histochem. 2013 Jan;88(1):10-8. doi: 10.3109/10520295.2012.724083. Epub 2012 Sep 27.


Capsaicin (CAP), the active substance of red hot peppers, has been reported to stimulate development of the gonad. Ghrelin is an acylated polypeptide hormone that is secreted predominantly by endocrine cells of the stomach. There is evidence that ghrelin is involved in reproductive function. Ghrelin significantly inhibits testosterone secretion in a dose-dependent manner. We investigated the effect of CAP on ghrelin expression in testes of mice and on testosterone levels during pubertal and adult periods. We used a variety of morphometric, immunohistochemical and biochemical methods, and western blot analysis. The animals were divided into two age groups: puberty and adult. Control groups for both age groups were fed with standard diet and experimental groups were fed with a diet containing 0.02% CAP. Testes were collected quickly after sacrifice. After dehydration, the specimens were embedded in paraffin and 5 μm sections were cut, and Crossman's triple staining and immunohistochemical staining for ghrelin were applied. Immunohistochemical staining with ghrelin antibody for both age groups demonstrated immunoreaction especially in Leydig and Sertoli cells, but no reaction was observed in spermatogenic cells. Ghrelin immunoreaction was less intense in the experimental groups. Serum testosterone levels were increased in both experimental groups, especially in adults. More spermatocytes were observed in the experimental group compared to the control group. In both pubertal and adult experimental groups, the seminiferous epithelium was thick. CAP appears to enhance testicular cell proliferation and can affect the release of ghrelin and testosterone directly or indirectly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Ghrelin / metabolism*
  • Leydig Cells / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Sensory System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Sertoli Cells / drug effects
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Ghrelin
  • Sensory System Agents
  • Testosterone
  • Capsaicin