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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Induction of reproductive tract developmental abnormalities in the male rat by lowering androgen production or action in combination with a low dose of diethylstilbestrol: evidence for importance of the androgen-estrogen balance.

This study tested the hypothesis that testis/reproductive tract abnormalities induced in the rat by neonatal treatment with diethylstilbestrol (DES) result from disturbance of the androgen-estrogen balance. Male rats were treated neonatally with a dose of DES (0.1 micro g) that induced either no or small effects on its own or with a dose (10 micro g) that induced major reproductive tract abnormalities. To allow quantification, the abnormalities chosen for study were distension of the rete testis and efferent ducts and reduction in epithelial cell height in the efferent ducts and vas deferens. To alter the androgen-estrogen balance, other rats were treated with DES (0.1 micro g) in combination with a treatment to suppress either androgen production [GnRH antagonist (GnRHa)] or androgen action (flutamide); other rats were treated with GnRHa or flutamide alone. Testosterone levels were measured to verify the effects of treatment. Combined administration of DES (0.1 micro g) plus GnRHa or flutamide induced significantly greater distension/overgrowth of the rete testis and efferent ducts (ED) and a reduction in epithelial cell height of the ED than did DES (0.1 micro g) administered alone. Neither GnRHa nor flutamide affected rete or ED distension when administered alone, but both significantly reduced ED epithelial cell height. Neonatal treatment with bisphenol-A (100 micro g) with or without GnRHa had no significant effect on any of these parameters. In contrast to the ED, a reduction in cell height of the vas deferens was induced to an equal extent by DES (10 micro g), DES (0.1 micro g) with GnRHa, and GnRHa alone, suggesting greater sensitivity of this tissue to both androgen and estrogen action. The induction of major abnormalities in rats treated with DES (10 micro g) was coincident with loss of androgen receptor immunoexpression in affected tissues. Reduced androgen receptor immunoexpression was also induced by combined treatment with DES (0.1 micro g) plus GnRHa or flutamide, whereas treatment with any of these compounds alone had no or only minor effects. These findings suggest that reduced androgen action sensitizes the reproductive tract to estrogens, demonstrating that the balance in action between androgens and estrogens, rather than their absolute levels, may be of fundamental importance in determining normal or abnormal development of some regions of the male reproductive tract.[1]


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