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J Endocrinol. 1997 Sep;154(3):R13-6.

Expression of oestrogen receptor beta (ER beta) in multiple rat tissues visualised by immunohistochemistry.

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  • 1MRC Reproductive Biology Unit, Edinburgh, UK.


Steroid hormones regulate cell function via specific receptors, members of a super family of ligand activated transcription factors, expressed in their target tissues. A second oestrogen receptor (ER beta) has recently been shown by RT-PCR to have a wide tissue distribution distinct from that of oestrogen receptor alpha (ER alpha). We have raised a polyclonal antiserum using a peptide specific for ER beta in order to determine the cellular sites of expression of the receptor. In the adult rat ER beta was localised to cell nuclei in a wide range of tissues including ovary, oviduct, uterus, lung, adrenal, seminal vesicle, bladder, heart, prostate and testis. In the ovary ER beta was present in multiple cell types including granulosa cells in small, medium and large follicles, theca and corpora lutea whereas ER alpha was undetectable in these cell types. In the uterus ER beta and ER alpha were both present in epithelial cells lining the lumen and glands. In the lung ER beta was present in the cells lining the bronchioles and alveoli as well as in smooth muscle. In bladder and seminal vesicle immunostaining was intense in epithelial cells but the receptor was also expressed in nuclei of smooth muscle cells. Cell nuclei of the heart ventricle were immunopositive for ER beta as were most cells of the adult rat adrenal. In the seminiferous epithelium of the testis, nuclei of Sertoli cells were immunopositive but expression was not stage dependent. In conclusion, immunohistochemistry has proved invaluable in visualising specific sites of expression of ER beta in complex tissues including those of the reproductive tract.

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