Estrogens in Human Male Gonadotropin Secretion and Testicular Physiology From Infancy to Late Puberty.
ABSTRACT: Several reports in humans as well as transgenic mouse models have shown that estrogens play an important role in male reproduction and fertility. Estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) and beta (ER?) are expressed in different male tissues including the brain. The estradiol-binding protein GPER1 also mediates estrogen action in target tissues. In human testes a minimal ER? expression during prepuberty along with a marked pubertal up-regulation in germ cells has been reported. ER? expression was detected mostly in spermatogonia, primary spermatocytes, and immature spermatids. In Sertoli cells ER? expression increases with age. The aromatase enzyme (cP450arom), which converts androgens to estrogens, is widely expressed in human tissues (including gonads and hypothalamus), even during fetal life, suggesting that estrogens are also involved in human fetal physiology. Moreover, cP450arom is expressed in the early postnatal testicular Leydig cells and spermatogonia. Even though the aromatase complex is required for estrogen synthesis, its biological relevance is also related to the regulation of the balance between androgens and estrogens in different tissues. Knockout mouse models of aromatase (ArKO) and estrogen receptors (ERKO?, ERKO?, and ERKO??) provide an important tool to study the effects of estrogens on the male reproductive physiology including the gonadal axis. High basal serum FSH levels were reported in adult aromatase-deficient men, suggesting that estrogens are involved in the negative regulatory gonadotropin feedback. However, normal serum gonadotropin levels were observed in an aromatase-deficient boy, suggesting a maturational pattern role of estrogen in the regulation of gonadotropin secretion. Nevertheless, the role of estrogens in primate testis development and function is controversial and poorly understood. This review addresses the role of estrogens in gonadotropin secretion and testicular physiology in male humans especially during childhood and puberty.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Androgens and estrogens are crucial for mammalian sperm differentiation but their role in biology of mature male gamete is not still defined. The expression of proteins involved in the biosynthesis and action of these steroid hormones has been demonstrated in human spermatozoa, but very few data have been reported in mature sperm from non human species. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the expression of aromatase (P450arom), estrogen (ERalpha/ERbeta) and androgen (AR) receptors in ejaculated spermatozoa of pig.<h4>Methods</h4>The immunfluorescence experiments were carried out treating pig sperm with anti-P450arom, anti-ERalpha, anti-ERbeta and anti-AR as primary antibodies, while Texas-Red/FITC conjugated IgG were applied as secondary antibodies. Furthermore, Western blot analysis was performed on sperm lysates.<h4>Results</h4>Aromatase was immunolocalized in the sperm tail, ERalpha and AR were localised in the sperm midpiece, while ERbeta was confined in the acrosomal region of the male gamete. Immunoblots detected a ~52 kDa aromatase band, a ~110 kDa AR band, a ~67 kDa ERalpha and two ERbeta bands, at ~50 kDa and ~59 kDa.<h4>Conclusion</h4>This is the first report demonstrating that pig ejaculated spermatozoa express aromatase, estrogen and androgen receptors with a differential intra-cellular localization revealing a species-specific expression pattern. Therefore, pig sperm could be considered as a potential estrogen source while the different hormone cellular sites suggest distinct roles of androgens and estrogens in pig sperm physiology.
Project description:Development of breast cancer involves genetic factors as well as lifetime exposure to estrogen. The precise molecular mechanisms whereby estrogens influence breast tumor formation are poorly understood. While estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) is certainly involved, nonreceptor mediated effects of estradiol (E(2)) may also play an important role in facilitating breast tumor development. A "reductionist" strategy allowed us to examine the role of ERalpha independent effects of E(2) on mammary tumor development in ERalpha knockout (ERKO) mice bearing the Wnt-1 oncogene. Exogenous E(2) "clamped" at early follicular and midluteal phase levels (i.e., 80 and 240 pg/ml) accelerated tumor formation in a dose-related fashion in ERKO/Wnt-1 animals (p = 0.0002). Reduction of endogenous E(2) by oophorectomy (p < 0.001) or an aromatase inhibitor (AI) (p = 0.055) in intact ERKO/Wnt-1 animals delayed tumorigenesis as further evidence for an ER-independent effect. The effects of residual ERalpha or beta were not involved since enhancement of tumor formation could not be blocked by the antiestrogen fulvestrant. 17alpha-OH-E(2), a metabolizable but ER-impeded analogue of E(2) stimulated tumor development without measurable uterine stimulatory effects. Taken together, our results suggest that ER-independent actions of E(2) can influence breast tumor development in concert with ER dependent effects. These observations suggest 1 mechanism whereby AIs, which block E(2) synthesis, would be more effective for breast cancer prevention than use of antiestrogens, which only block ER-mediated effects.
Project description:In addition to the transcriptional activity of their liganded nuclear receptors, estrogens, such as estradiol (E2), modulate cell functions, and consequently physiology and behavior, within minutes through membrane-initiated events. The membrane-associated receptors (mERs) underlying the acute effects of estrogens on behavior have mostly been documented in females where active estrogens are thought to be of ovarian origin. We determined here, by acute intracerebroventricular injections of specific agonists and antagonists, the type(s) of mERs that modulate rapid effects of brain-derived estrogens on sexual motivation in male Japanese quail. Brain aromatase blockade acutely inhibited sexual motivation. Diarylpropionitrile (DPN), an estrogen receptor ? (ER?)-specific agonist, and to a lesser extent 17?-estradiol, possibly acting through ER-X, prevented this effect. In contrast, drugs targeting ER? (PPT and MPP), GPR30 (G1 and G15), and the Gq-mER (STX) did not affect sexual motivation. The mGluR1a antagonist LY367385 significantly inhibited sexual motivation but mGluR2/3 and mGluR5 antagonists were ineffective. LY367385 also blocked the behavioral restoration induced by E2 or DPN, providing functional evidence that ER? interacts with metabotropic glutamate receptor 1a (mGluR1a) signaling to acutely regulate male sexual motivation. Together these results show that ER? plays a key role in sexual behavior regulation and the recently uncovered cooperation between mERs and mGluRs is functional in males where it mediates the acute effects of estrogens produced centrally in response to social stimuli. The presence of an ER-mGluR interaction in birds suggests that this mechanism emerged relatively early in vertebrate history and is well conserved. Significance statement: The membrane-associated receptors underlying the acute effects of estrogens on behavior have mostly been documented in females, where active estrogens are thought to be of ovarian origin. Using acute intracerebroventricular injections of specific agonists and antagonists following blockade of brain aromatase, we show here that brain-derived estrogens acutely facilitate male sexual motivation through the activation of estrogen receptor ? interacting with the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1a. This behavioral effect occurring within minutes provides a mechanistic explanation of how an estrogen receptor not intrinsically coupled to intracellular effectors can signal from the membrane to govern behavior in a very rapid fashion. It suggests that different subtypes of estrogen receptors could regulate the motivation versus performance aspects of behavior.
Project description:Estrogens have long been known as important regulators of the female reproductive functions; however, our understanding of the role estrogens play in the human body has changed significantly over the past years. It is now commonly accepted that estrogens and androgens have important functions in both female and male physiology and pathology. This is in part due to the local synthesis and action of estrogens that broadens the role of estrogen signaling beyond that of the endocrine system. Furthermore, there are several different mechanisms through which the three estrogen receptors (ERs), ER?, ER? and G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) are able to regulate target gene transcription. ER? and ER? are mostly associated with the direct and indirect genomic signaling pathways that result in target gene expression. Membrane-bound GPER1 is on the other hand responsible for the rapid non-genomic actions of estrogens that activate various protein-kinase cascades. Estrogen signaling is also tightly connected with another important regulatory entity, i.e. epigenetic mechanisms. Posttranslational histone modifications, microRNAs (miRNAs) and DNA methylation have been shown to influence gene expression of ERs as well as being regulated by estrogen signaling. Moreover, several coregulators of estrogen signaling also exhibit chromatin-modifying activities further underlining the importance of epigenetic mechanisms in estrogen signaling. This review wishes to highlight the newer aspects of estrogen signaling that exceed its classical endocrine regulatory role, especially emphasizing its tight intertwinement with epigenetic mechanisms.
Project description:Most lymphomas show higher incidence and poorer prognosis in males compared to females. However, the endocrine contribution to this gender difference is not entirely known. Here we show that castration accelerates lymphoma growth in C57BL6 male mice grafted with murine EG7 T cell lymphoma cells. However, the androgen receptor antagonist Bicalutamide did not affect lymphoma growth, suggesting no impact of androgen receptor signaling on lymphoma progression. In contrast, inhibition of androgen-to-estrogen conversion by the aromatase inhibitor (AI) Letrozole induced faster lymphoma growth in mice, suggesting that androgens impact lymphoma growth through its conversion to estrogens. This was supported by the inability of dihydrotestosterone, which is not converted to estrogens by aromatase, to influence lymphoma growth in castrated male mice. Lymphoma growth was also stimulated in immunocompromised mice grafted with human B cell lymphoma (Granta-519) and treated with either reversible or irreversible AIs, showing that the blockage of estrogen synthesis caused enhanced growth of both murine T and human B cell lymphomas and with different AIs. Additionally, AI-treated EG7 lymphomas showed accelerated growth not only in male but also in intact female mice. Altogether, our results demonstrate that aromatase inhibition accelerates lymphoma growth but not androgens per se, highlighting a protective role of estrogens in lymphoma pathogenesis. These results also raise concern that the use of AIs in women with breast cancer might enhance lymphoma progression.
Project description:Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interfere with the biosynthesis, metabolism, and functions of steroid hormones, including estrogens and androgens. Aromatase enzyme converts androgen to estrogen. Thus, EDCs against aromatase significantly impact estrogen- and/or androgen-dependent functions, including the development of breast cancer. The current study aimed to develop a biologically relevant cell-based high-throughput screening assay to identify EDCs that act as aromatase inhibitors (AIs), estrogen receptor (ER) agonists, and/or ER antagonists. The AroER tri-screen assay was developed by stable transfection of ER-positive, aromatase-expressing MCF-7 breast cancer cells with an estrogen responsive element (ERE) driven luciferase reporter plasmid. The AroER tri-screen can identify: estrogenic EDCs, which increase luciferase signal without 17?-estradiol (E2); anti-estrogenic EDCs, which inhibit the E2-induced luciferase signal; and AI-like EDCs, which suppress a testosterone-induced luciferase signal. The assay was first optimized in a 96-well plate format and then miniaturized into a 1536-well plate format. The AroER tri-screen was demonstrated to be suitable for high-throughput screening in the 1536-well plate format, with a 6.9-fold signal-to-background ratio, a 5.4% coefficient of variation, and a screening window coefficient (Z-factor) of 0.78. The assay suggested that bisphenol A (BPA) functions mainly as an ER agonist. Results from screening the 446 drugs in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Collection revealed 106 compounds that modulated ER and/or aromatase activities. Among these, two AIs (bifonazole and oxiconazole) and one ER agonist (paroxetine) were confirmed through alternative aromatase and ER activity assays. These findings indicate that AroER tri-screen is a useful high-throughput screening system for identifying ER ligands and aromatase-inhibiting chemicals.
Project description:Cytochrome P450 aromatase is an essential enzyme for vertebrates. It is responsible for the conversion of androgens to estrogens in the brain and gonadal tissues. Aromatase converts testosterone into estradiol and therefore participates in the regulation of many processes which are controlled by estrogens such as development and fertility. Teleosts have been characterized as having exceptionally high levels of brain estrogen biosynthesis when compared to the brains of the other vertebrates. Little is known about the effects of estrogens on brain function in teleosts. The main objective of this study was to assess the effects of fadrozole, a powerful aromatase inhibitor, on gene expression in the zebrafish brain. To achieve this, male zebrafish were exposed to fadrozole for 10 days. This exposure causes a decrease in estrogens along with an increase in androgens. Plasma testosterone levels showed a 3-fold increase in response to the exposure. In the telencephalon, 235 genes were identified by Affymetrix GeneChip analysis as being differentially regulated. Real-time RT-PCR was used to validate the data obtained from the microarrays. This technique was also used to evaluate the response in the hypothalamus, which appears to follow similar transcriptional regulation. Gene ontology analysis of the microarray data revealed common biological processes and molecular functions such as sensory perception and detection of light stimulus, homeobox and transcription factor complexes. This study has identified genes which are directly and/or indirectly controlled by estrogens and androgens which helped to demonstrate the pronounced effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on gene expression in the brain of teleosts. Collectively, the results provide a better understanding of the effects of aromatase inhibitors on gene expression and also shed light on the underlying effects of sex hormone variation and their importance in the brain of teleosts. Adult male zebrafish were exposed to fadrozole (200 ug/L) for 10 days. Telencephalons were pooled; approximately 30 per array. 3 treated samples, 3 control samples
Project description:Steroid estrogens modulate physiology and development of vertebrates. Conversion of C19 androgens into C18 estrogens is thought to be an irreversible reaction. Here, we report a denitrifying Denitratisoma sp. strain DHT3 capable of catabolizing estrogens or androgens anaerobically. Strain DHT3 genome contains a polycistronic gene cluster, emtABCD, differentially transcribed under estrogen-fed conditions and predicted to encode a cobalamin-dependent methyltransferase system conserved among estrogen-utilizing anaerobes; an emtA-disrupted DHT3 derivative could catabolize androgens but not estrogens. These data, along with the observed androgen production in estrogen-fed strain DHT3 cultures, suggested the occurrence of a cobalamin-dependent estrogen methylation to form androgens. Consistently, the estrogen conversion into androgens in strain DHT3 cell extracts requires methylcobalamin and is inhibited by propyl iodide, a specific inhibitor of cobalamin-dependent enzymes. The identification of the cobalamin-dependent estrogen methylation thus represents an unprecedented metabolic link between cobalamin and steroid metabolism and suggests that retroconversion of estrogens into androgens occurs in the biosphere.
Project description:The mechanisms of estrogen receptor (ER)-? activity can be categorized into those involving direct (classical) or indirect (nonclassical) DNA binding. Although various mouse models have demonstrated the importance of ER? in bone, the specific gene expression patterns affected by these modes of ER? action are unknown. In this report, the gene expression patterns of ER?-deficient (ERKO) mice and nonclassical ER knock-in (NERKI) mice, which can function only by nonclassical means, were analyzed. Three-month-old mice were ovariectomized and implanted with estrogen pellets for 1 month to normalize estrogen levels. Microarray analysis of flushed cortical bone revealed 28% (210 of 763) of the genes differentially expressed in ERKO mice were altered in NERKI mice, suggesting estrogen response element-dependent regulation of these genes in bone. Pathway analysis revealed alterations in genes involved in focal adhesion and extracellular matrix interactions. However, the majority of genes regulated in ERKO mice (72%) were unique (i.e. not altered in NERKI mice), suggesting these are regulated by nonclassical mechanisms. To further explore the pathways affected in ERKO mice, we performed focused quantitative PCR arrays for genes involved in various aspects of bone physiology. Genes involved in bone formation, senescence, apoptosis, and autophagy were significantly regulated. Overall, the majority of the genes regulated by ER? in bone are via nonclassical pathways. However, because NERKI mice display an osteoporotic phenotype, it can be deduced that the minority of the estrogen response element-dependent genes/pathways play critical roles in the regulation of bone physiology. These data demonstrate the importance of classical ER? signaling in regulating bone metabolism.
Project description:Classically, the estrogen signaling system has two core components: cytochrome P450 aromatase (CYP19), the enzyme complex that catalyzes the rate limiting step in estrogen biosynthesis; and estrogen receptors (ERs), ligand activated transcription factors that interact with the regulatory region of target genes to mediate the biological effects of estrogen. While the importance of estrogens for regulation of reproduction, development and physiology has been well-documented in gnathostome vertebrates, the evolutionary origins of estrogen as a hormone are still unclear. As invertebrates within the phylum Chordata, cephalochordates (e.g., the amphioxus of the genus Branchiostoma) are among the closest invertebrate relatives of the vertebrates and can provide critical insight into the evolution of vertebrate-specific molecules and pathways. To address this question, this paper briefly reviews relevant earlier studies that help to illuminate the history of the aromatase and ER genes, with a particular emphasis on insights from amphioxus and other invertebrates. We then present new analyses of amphioxus aromatase and ER sequence and function, including an in silico model of the amphioxus aromatase protein, and CYP19 gene analysis. CYP19 shares a conserved gene structure with vertebrates (9 coding exons) and moderate sequence conservation (40% amino acid identity with human CYP19). Modeling of the amphioxus aromatase substrate binding site and simulated docking of androstenedione in comparison to the human aromatase shows that the substrate binding site is conserved and predicts that androstenedione could be a substrate for amphioxus CYP19. The amphioxus ER is structurally similar to vertebrate ERs, but differs in sequence and key residues of the ligand binding domain. Consistent with results from other laboratories, amphioxus ER did not bind radiolabeled estradiol, nor did it modulate gene expression on an estrogen-responsive element (ERE) in the presence of estradiol, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, diethylstilbestrol, bisphenol A or genistein. Interestingly, it has been shown that a related gene, the amphioxus "steroid receptor" (SR), can be activated by estrogens and that amphioxus ER can repress this activation. CYP19, ER and SR are all primarily expressed in gonadal tissue, suggesting an ancient paracrine/autocrine signaling role, but it is not yet known how their expression is regulated and, if estrogen is actually synthesized in amphioxus, whether it has a role in mediating any biological effects. Functional studies are clearly needed to link emerging bioinformatics and in vitro molecular biology results with organismal physiology to develop an understanding of the evolution of estrogen signaling. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Marine organisms'.