Localization of cytochrome P450 aromatase and estrogen receptors alpha and beta in testicular cells--an immunohistochemical study of the bank vole.Acta Histochem. 2000 May; 102(2):167-81.AH
Age- and light-dark cycle-induced changes in immunoexpression of aromatase and estrogen receptors alpha and beta were studied in testes of a seasonally breeding rodent, the bank vole. Seasonal breeding can be mimicked by exposure to different light cycle regimes. In testes of animals that were exposed to long light cycles of 18 h light and 6 h darkness aromatase was in Leydig cells and seminiferous tubules, mainly in spermatocytes, whereas in animals exposed to short light cycles (6 h light and 18 h darkness), only Leydig cells exhibited positive immunostaining for aromatase. Whatever the age of animals, immunostaining for estrogen receptor alpha was restricted to Leydig cells, whereas estrogen receptor beta immunoreactivity was mainly confined to Sertoli cells of both of immature and adult animals, independently of the regimes of light. Additionally, in testes of animals that were exposed to long light cycles, estrogen receptor beta immunoreactivity was observed in seminiferous tubules. Nuclei of germ cells, predominantly spermatocytes and elongated spermatids, were strongly positive which correlated well with aromatase immunoreactivity. As far as we know, the present study is the first study that describes immunoexpression of aromatase and both estrogen receptors alpha and beta in testis of the bank vole. We provide strong evidence that estrogens are not only produced in Leydig cells but also in germ cells in this rodent. These female hormones may play a physiological role in testis, likely in the development of germ cells during spermatogenesis.