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J Androl. 2009 Mar-Apr;30(2):127-33. doi: 10.2164/jandrol.108.005157. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Comparing expression of progesterone and estrogen receptors in testicular tissue from men with obstructive and nonobstructive azoospermia.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


The objective of this study was to identify and compare the expression profiles of progesterone receptor (PR) and estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) in the testes of men with obstructive azoospermia (OA), maturation arrest (MA), and Sertoli cell-only (SCO) histology. Testicular biopsies were obtained from 10 patients with OA, 10 patients with MA (either early or late arrest), and 8 patients with SCO who did not have hormonal abnormalities and varicoceles. Expression of PR and ERalpha was detected by immunofluorescence and Western blot. PR was expressed in the spermatogenic, Leydig, and Sertoli cells in the testes of OA patients. In the MA and SCO patients, the expression of PR was reduced in all cell types as compared with that in the OA patients. Western blot demonstrated that both the full-size (120 KDa) and the truncated (52 KDa) isoforms of the PR were expressed in the OA and MA testes. However, in the SCO testes, only the truncated isoform of PR (52 KDa) was expressed. ERalpha (66 KDa) was expressed principally in the spermatogenic and Leydig cells in the OA testes. By immunohistochemistry staining, expression of ERalpha was decreased in the spermatogenic and Leydig cells of the MA testes, whereas its expression was enhanced in the Leydig cells of the SCO testes. However, by Western blot, expression of ERalpha was significantly reduced in the SCO testes as compared with that in the OA and MA testes. We conclude that PR and ERalpha may play a role in the pathogenesis of the MA and SCO phenotype in patients with infertility.

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