Mouse epididymal sperm contain active P450 aromatase which decreases as sperm traverse the epididymis.J Androl. 1996 Mar-Apr; 17(2):111-6.JA
Recently we reported that mouse germ cells in the testis contain active P450 aromatase (P450arom), the enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens. This finding suggested that germ cells have the ability to produce estrogen. Further studies have shown that germ cells in the testis of several species contain P450arom. The goal of this study was to determine if epididymal sperm contain P450arom and if P450arom activity in sperm changes during traversion of the epididymis in the adult mouse. P450arom was localized in sperm present in the efferent ductules and epididymis by immunocytochemistry using an antiserum generated against purified human placental cytochrome P450arom. P450arom immunostaining in sperm was most prominent in sperm located in the proximal caput epididymis, decreased as sperm traversed the corpus epididymis, and was only slightly apparent in sperm in the cauda epididymis. The immunolocalization of P450arom in epididymal sperm was supported by the measurement of P450arom activity in sperm by the 3H2O assay. We found that P450arom activity in sperm significantly decreases as sperm traverse the epididymis. Based upon these observations, we conclude that sperm can synthesize estrogen and that the synthesis of estrogen by sperm present in the efferent ductules and caput epididymis could be important in the process of sperm maturation.