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Endocrinology. 1989 Nov;125(5):2701-9.

Differential effects of estradiol and 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone on pituitary and preoptic estrogen receptor regulation.

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Laboratories of Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


16 alpha-Hydroxyestrone (16OHE1), an endogenous metabolite of estradiol (E2), binds to the estrogen receptor (ER) with low affinity, but is estrogenic in various bioassay systems. 16OHE1 binds covalently to the ER in vitro, exhibits prolonged estrogenic bioactivity in vivo, and has been implicated in several estrogen-dependent diseases. This study examined the effects of 13 days of continuous infusion of E2 or 16OHE1 on lordotic behavior, pituitary growth, and ER regulation in the cytosolic and nuclear fractions of the pituitary and preoptic area of both sexes. Finally, simultaneous pituitary nuclear exchange assays and enzyme immunoassays were performed to search for covalent 16OHE1-ER complexes in vivo. E2 induced lordosis and pituitary growth in both sexes, while 16OHE1 was only slightly less effective. While E2 treatment increased nuclear ER concentrations 2-fold vs. control values, it decreased both cytosolic and total (cytosolic plus nuclear) ER concentrations in pituitary and preoptic area by approximately 3-fold vs. control values in both sexes by exchange assay. In contrast, 16OHE1 did not decrease total pituitary ER concentrations and only minimally decreased total preoptic ER concentrations. Simultaneous exchange assay and immunoassay of pituitary nuclear extracts demonstrated proportionate increases in ER levels in female vs. male and in E2-treated vs. 16OHE1-treated rats. The ratios of (ER enzyme immunoassay divided by ER-exchange) for each rat were similar regardless of metabolite administration. The correlation of individual measurements implied that ER localized to the nuclear fraction by either E2 or 16OHE1 retained both exchangeability and immunoassayability to similar extents, but did not support the presence of 16OHE1-ER covalent complexes. The results of this study suggest that 16OHE1 has significant estrogenic bioactivity, as manifest by its effects on lordosis and pituitary growth, but, in contrast to E2, does not decrease pituitary ER concentrations and only minimally decreases preoptic ER concentrations. This property may be important in the proposed pathogenetic action of 16OHE1 in estrogen-dependent disease.

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