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Reproduction. 2011 Sep;142(3):439-46. doi: 10.1530/REP-11-0131. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Roosters affected by epididymal lithiasis present local alteration in vitamin D3, testosterone and estradiol levels as well as estrogen receptor 2 (beta) expression.

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Department of Morphology, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Caixa Postal 486, CEP 31.270-901 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


Epididymal lithiasis is a reproductive dysfunction of roosters that is associated with loss of fertility and is characterized by the formation of calcium stones in the lumen of the efferent ductules of the epididymal region. The efferent ductules of birds are responsible for the reabsorption of the fluid coming from the testis as well as luminal calcium. It has been hypothesized that the epididymal stone formation may be related to the impairment of local fluid or calcium homeostasis, which depends on hormones such as estradiol (E(2)). Therefore, this study aimed to investigate possible alterations in the expression of ERα (ESR1) and ERβ (ESR2) in the epididymal region of roosters affected by epididymal lithiasis. The study was performed by immunohistochemistry and western blotting assays. In addition, the concentrations of E(2), vitamin D3, and testosterone, which are also key hormones in maintenance of calcium homeostasis, were determined in the plasma and epididymal region, by ELISA. It was observed that ESR2 expression is increased in all segments of the epididymal region of affected roosters, whereas ESR1 levels are not altered. Moreover, the hormone concentration profiles were changed, as in the epididymal region of roosters with lithiasis the E(2) levels were increased and vitamin D3 as well as testosterone concentrations were significantly decreased. These results suggest that a hormonal imbalance may be involved with the origin and progression of the epididymal lithiasis, possibly by affecting the local fluid or calcium homeostasis.

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