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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 Jun 10;178(1-2):73-87.

Modulation of gene expression by androgen and oestrogens in the testis and prostate of the adult rat following androgen withdrawal.

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  • 1MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Centre for Reproductive Biology, 37 Chalmers Street, EH3 9ET, Scotland, Edinburgh, UK.


Androgens are important for the structural and functional integrity of the testis and the prostate and this may in part be mediated by the aromatisation of testosterone to oestradiol. The aim of the present study was to establish an in vivo model that would allow the identification of genes, the expression of which was regulated acutely by androgen and/or oestrogen in the male reproductive system. In rats in which the Leydig cells were ablated by administration of ethane dimethane sulfonate (EDS) 6 days earlier, testosterone esters (T) were administered from day 0 (To), and additional animals were administered either T, 17beta-oestradiol benzoate (EB) or diethylstilbestrol (DES) for 1 or 4 h on day 6 after EDS-treatment. Nuclear immunoexpression of the androgen receptor (AR) was reduced or absent from the testis but unaffected in the ventral prostate following these treatments. ERbeta immunoexpression in these tissues was unchanged. Northern blot analysis showed that EB and DES as well as T administration 4 h earlier could modulate mRNA expression of two androgen-responsive genes, C3 and SGP-2, in the prostate. The co-administration of T or EB with the AR antagonist, flutamide, or with the ER antagonist, ICI 182,780 (ICI), did not block the suppression of SGP-2 mRNA expression by T or EB. In contrast, the upregulation of C3 mRNA expression by T was successfully antagonised by both flutamide and by ICI. A preliminary evaluation of the expression of three Sertoli cell and five germ cell mRNAs revealed that their expression was not steroid regulated. Our results support the hypothesis that the action of testosterone in the male reproductive system may in part be mediated by its conversion to oestradiol. This in vivo model should prove of value in future studies to identify androgen and oestrogen regulated genes in the male reproductive system.

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