Immunolocalization of estrogen and androgen receptors and steroid concentrations in the stallion epididymis.Theriogenology. 2006 Sep 01; 66(4):755-65.T
The presence of steroids and their receptors throughout development, specifically androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta), in the epididymis of a high estrogen producing species like the stallion has not been determined. Epididymal and testicular samples were collected for analysis of testosterone and estradiol-17beta (E(2)) concentrations and for immunolocalization of AR, ERalpha and ERbeta. The concentration of testosterone in the testis and epididymis were not different among age groups (P>0.05). AR was localized in the principal cells of the caput, corpus and cauda in all four age groups. This lack of change in testosterone concentration and receptor localization suggests that testosterone is important for both development and maintenance of epididymal function. There was an age-related increase in E(2) concentrations in all regions of the epididymis (P<0.05), suggesting that E(2) is also important for adult function. ERbeta was localized in the principal cells of the caput, corpus and cauda in all four age groups, but the localization of ERalpha was regional and age dependent. In peri-pubertal animals, ERalpha immunostaining was most prominent and estradiol was similarly present in all three epididymal regions; this suggests that estradiol also plays a key role in the maturation of the stallion epididymis during the pubertal transition when sperm first arrive in the epididymis. In conclusion, these results suggest that the stallion epididymis is regulated by both androgens and estrogens throughout development and that estradiol is more important to epididymal function in the stallion than previously believed.