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Endocrinology. 1994 Sep;135(3):1227-34.

Immunohistochemical localization of androgen receptors in the rat testis: evidence for stage-dependent expression and regulation by androgens.

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Medical Research Council Reproductive Biology Unit, Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Androgens are essential for the maintenance of normal spermatogenesis in the rat. We assessed the sites, developmental pattern, and hormonal control of androgen receptors (AR) in the rat testis. Adult male rats were studied after 1) no treatment; 2) ethane dimethane sulfonate (EDS), which eradicates Leydig cells and endogenous testosterone (T); 3) EDS plus T replacement beginning at the time of EDS administration; or 4) methoxyacetic acid, which leads to the loss of specific germ cell types. Testes were also obtained from normal immature rats (aged 5, 14, 16, 21, 28, 31, 35, 38, and 45 days). After microwave antigen retrieval, immunohistochemistry was performed using a rabbit polyclonal antibody (Novocastra) raised against a peptide unique to the N-terminal region of the AR and detection with biotinylated swine antirabbit immunoglobulin G, avidin-biotin complex/alkaline phosphatase, and nitroblue tetrazolium salt (NBT)/5 bromo-4-chloro-3-indolylphosphate (BCIP) substrate. In adults, nuclear immunostaining of Sertoli cells (SC) increased progressively in intensity from stages II through VII of the spermatogenic cycle, and then declined precipitously during stage VIII to become barely detectable in stages IX-XIII. Prominent AR immunostaining was also evident in peritubular myoid cells, arterioles, and interstitial cells; staining in these cells did not vary with the stage of the cycle of the adjacent tubules. EDS caused a severe loss of AR immunostaining in all cell types. Replacement of T in EDS-treated animals resulted in a pattern of AR immunostaining comparable to that in controls, although staining intensity was reduced. Methoxyacetic acid administration did not affect the pattern of AR staining. In immature rats, peritubular myoid cell immunostaining was prominent from day 5; SC staining was detectable on day 5, increased in intensity with age, and became stage dependent between days 21-35. The following conclusions were reached. 1) Immunohistochemically detectable AR expression in SC occurs predominantly in stages II-VII of the spermatogenic cycle, with highest levels at stage VII. 2) AR immunostaining is also prominent in peritubular myoid cells, arterioles, and Leydig cells (but not in germ cells), but is unrelated to the stage of adjacent tubules. 3) Endogenous T and/or its metabolites control the expression of AR in the testis. 4) AR immunostaining is detectable by day 5 of age and becomes stage specific in SC between days 21-35.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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