These data suggest that DES-induced SV toxicity and feminization are primarily mediated by Estrogen Receptor-α; however, some aspects of androgen response may require the action of ERβ
Studies have shown that perinatal exposure to the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) leads to feminization of the seminal vesicle (SV) in male mice, as illustrated by tissue hyperplasia, ectopic expression of the major estrogen-inducible uterine secretory protein lactoferrin (LF), and reduced expression of SV secretory protein IV (SVS IV).
The present study was designed to evaluate the role of the estrogen receptor (ER) in this action by using ER-knockout (ERKO) mice.
Wild-type (WT), ERα-null (αERKO), and ERβ-null (βERKO) male mice were treated with either vehicle or DES (2 μg/day) on neonatal days 1-5. These mice were divided into two groups: In the first group, intact mice were sacrificed at 10 weeks of age; in the second group, mice were castrated at 10 weeks of age, allowed to recover for 10 days, treated with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or placebo, and sacrificed 2 weeks later. Body weights and SV weights were recorded, and mRNA expression levels of Ltf (lactoferrin), Svs4, and androgen receptor (Ar) were assessed.
In DES-treated intact mice, SV weights were reduced in WT and βERKO mice but not in αERKO mice. DES-treated WT and βERKO males, but not αERKO males, exhibited ectopic expression of LF in the SV. DES treatment resulted in decreased SVS IV protein and mRNA expression in WT males, but no effect was seen in αERKO mice. In addition, DES-treated βERKO mice exhibited reduced Svs4 mRNA expression but maintained control levels of SVS IV protein. In DES-treated castrated mice, DHT implants restored SV weights to normal levels in αERKO mice but not in WT mice, suggesting full androgen responsiveness in αERKO mice.
These data suggest that DES-induced SV toxicity and feminization are primarily mediated by ERα; however, some aspects of androgen response may require the action of ERβ.
Estrogen receptor-α mediates diethylstilbestrol-induced feminization of the seminal vesicle in male mice, NCBI, PMID: 22275727, 2012 Apr;120(4):560-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103678. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
Feminization of the male mouse reproductive tract after prenatal exposure to DES
1994 Study Abstract
Exposure to estrogens during critical stages of development has been reported to cause irreversible changes in estrogen target tissues such as the reproductive tract. In fact, recent studies using mice describe prenatal estrogen exposure resulting in the expression of the major estrogen-inducible uterine secretory protein, lactoferrin (LF), by the seminal vesicles of the male offspring. Thus, we have studied the role of estrogens in abnormal and normal gene expression in the developing male reproductive tract using LF and seminal vesicle secretory protein IV (SVS IV), an androgen-regulated murine seminal vesicle secretory protein, as markers. Lactoferrin and SVS IV protein and mRNA expression were studied in histological samples by using the techniques of in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Seminal vesicle secretory protein IV was expressed in all (100%) epithelial cells of the control seminal vesicle, but this protein was decreased by castration. However, LF expression was undetectable by ISH or IHC in control seminal vesicle epithelium. Lactoferrin was inducible in 2% of the seminal vesicle epithelial cells from adult castrated mice treated with estradiol 17 beta (E2; 20 micrograms/kg/day for 3 days), indicating that a small percentage of the seminal vesicle cells could be induced to secrete LF after modification of the endocrine environment. Prenatal DES treatment (100 micrograms./kg. maternal body weight on days 9 through 16 of gestation) resulted in the male offspring exhibiting constitutive expression of LF in 5% of the seminal vesicle epithelial cells, while expression of the androgen-regulated protein SVS IV was slightly decreased. The maximal contrast between LF and SVS IV expression was observed in prenatally DES-treated mice that were subsequently castrated as adults and further treated with E2; LF was detected in 40% of the epithelial cells in these mice. Double immunostaining techniques revealed that epithelial cells which were making LF had ceased production of SVS IV. Since a large percentage of the epithelial cells in the intact prenatal DES exposed male was capable of expressing the normal gene product, SVS IV, it was concluded that DES treatment during prenatal development appears to imprint or induce estrogenic sensitivity in the adult seminal vesicle, causing increased production of LF. The results suggest that this altered protein response may be an example of atypical gene expression in male reproductive tract tissues following hormonal manipulation early in development.
Molecular feminization of mouse seminal vesicle by prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol: altered expression of messenger RNA, NCBI, PMID: 8158792, 1994 May;151(5):1370-8.
The seminal vesicle of prenatally DES-exposed male mice acquired two key characteristics of female tissues
Previous studies from our laboratory on the feminization of the male mouse reproductive tract after prenatal exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) showed that the mRNA for the major estrogen-inducible uterine secretory protein, lactoferrin (LF), was constitutively expressed in the seminal vesicle of male mice exposed prenatally to DES, but not in the seminal vesicle of control mice. After castration, treatment with 17 beta-estradiol (20 micrograms/kg.day) for 3 days induced the LF mRNA in the seminal vesicle of both control and prenatally DES-exposed mice; however, the levels in DES-treated tissues were approximately 6-fold higher than those in control tissue. This report describes the presence of LF in seminal vesicle tissues and secretions of prenatally DES-exposed mice, as determined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. Further, these data are correlated with immunolocalization of the estrogen receptor in the seminal vesicle tissue. We conclude that the seminal vesicle of prenatally DES-exposed male mice has acquired two key characteristics of female tissues, namely LF production/regulation and estrogen receptor localization/distribution similar to that in uterine tissues.
Female gene expression in the seminal vesicle of mice after prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol, NCBI, PMID: 2707167, 1989 May;124(5):2568-76.