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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 May 22;98(11):6330-5.

A role for estrogen receptor beta in the regulation of growth of the ventral prostate.

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Department of Medical Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Novum, Huddinge, S-141 86 Sweden.


In normal rats and mice, immunostaining with specific antibodies revealed that nuclei of most prostatic epithelial cells harbor estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta). In rat ventral prostate, 530- and 549-aa isoforms of the receptor were identified. These sediment in the 4S region of low-salt sucrose gradients, indicating that prostatic ERbeta does not contain the same protein chaperones that are associated with ERalpha. Estradiol (E(2)) binding and ERbeta immunoreactivity coincide on the gradient, with no indication of ERalpha. In prostates from mice in which the ERbeta gene has been inactivated (BERKO), androgen receptor (AR) levels are elevated, and the tissue contains multiple hyperplastic foci. Most epithelial cells express the proliferation antigen Ki-67. In contrast, prostatic epithelium from wild-type littermates is single layered with no hyperplasia, and very few cells express Ki-67. Rat ventral prostate contains an estrogenic component, which comigrates on HPLC with the testosterone metabolite 5alpha-androstane-3beta,17beta-diol (3betaAdiol). This compound, which competes with E(2) for binding to ERbeta and elicits an estrogenic response in the aorta but not in the pituitary, decreases the AR content in prostates of wild-type mice but does not affect the elevated levels seen in ERbeta knockout (BERKO) mice. Thus ERbeta, probably as a complex with 3betaAdiol, is involved in regulating the AR content of the rodent prostate and in restraining epithelial growth. These findings suggest that ligands specific for ERbeta may be useful in the prevention and/or clinical management of prostatic hyperplasia and neoplasia.

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