Summary. Mammalian testis contains D-aspartic acid (D-Asp), which enhances testosterone production. D-Asp, on other hand, also stimulates 17β-estradiol synthesis
in the ovary of some lower vertebrates. We studied boar testis in order to determine if D-Asp intervenes in 17β-estradiol synthesis in the testis of those mammals which produce significant amounts of estrogens as well as testosterone. The boar testis contains D-Asp (40 ± 3.6 nmol/g tissue) which, according to immunohistological techniques, is localized mainly in Leydig cells, and, to a lesser extent, in sustentacular (Sertoli), peritubular and some germ cells. The enzyme P450aromatase is present in Leydig cells and few germ cells. In vitro experiments showed that the addition of D-Asp to testicular tissue extracts induced a significant increase of aromatase activity, as evaluated by testosterone conversion into 17β-estradiol. The enzyme’s Km was not affected by D-Asp (about 25 nM in both control and D-Asp added tests). On the basis of these results we suggest that, as in the ovary, D-Asp is involved in the local control of aromatase activity of boar testis and, therefore, it intervenes in the 17β-estradiol production. In the testis, the D-Asp targets are presumably the Leydig cells, which having also a nuclear estrogen receptor are, in turn, one of the putative targets of the 17β-estradiol that they produce (autocrine effect).