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J Orthop Res. 2002 Jan;20(1):163-8.

Androgen receptors in Dupuytren's contracture.

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Institute of Orthopedics, University of Ancona, Italy.


Palmar fascia tissue and cultured cells from patients with Dupuytren's contracture and from normal subjects were characterized and analyzed for androgen receptor expression. Androgen receptors have never been studied in Dupuytren's myofibroblasts and may have a role in its high male predominance. Surgical samples were collected from eight patients undergoing surgery for Dupuytren's contracture and from four patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, used as control tissue. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on tissue samples and on cell cultures with anti-androgen receptor, anti-alpha-smooth muscle actin, anti-fibronectin, and anti-type I and III collagen antibodies using the biotin avidin peroxidase method as revelatory system. Immunostaining for androgen receptors in tissue samples and cultured cells revealed nuclear reaction in many Dupuytren's myofibroblasts, but in few fibroblasts of the normal palmar fascia. In a double-labeling study, androgen receptors were seen to co-localize with alpha-actin in both cell cultures and tissue samples. We present the first evidence that the palmar fascia is a target tissue for androgen action and that the expression of androgen receptors in Dupuytren's contracture is considerably higher than in the normal palmar fascia. Further studies will need to evaluate whether the androgen-responsive state of the tissue is related to the high incidence of Dupuytren's contracture in the male sex.

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