Paracrine regulation of apoptosis by steroid hormones in the male and female reproductive system

Cell Death Differ. 2001 Feb;8(2):192-200. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4400797.


In males, androgens are essential in maintaining the integrity of the prostate. Androgen-ablation induces apoptosis of the prostatic epithelium. In females, ovariectomy induces apoptosis in uterine epithelium while progesterone inhibits this process. The objective of this study was to determine whether androgen and progesterone inhibit apoptosis, respectively, in mouse prostatic and uterine epithelia via steroid receptors in the epithelium or in the stroma. To address this question, prostatic tissue recombinants were prepared with rat urogenital sinus mesenchyme plus bladder epithelium from wild-type or testicular feminization mutant (Tfm) mice. Thus, prostatic tissue was generated having androgen receptor (AR) in both epithelium and stroma or in the stroma only. Castration of hosts induced apoptosis in the AR-negative Tfm prostatic epithelium with an epithelial apoptotic index virtually identical to prostatic tissue recombinants containing wild-type epithelium. Moreover, this castration-induced prostatic epithelial apoptosis was blocked by testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in both wild-type and Tfm prostatic tissue recombinants. Likewise, uterine tissue recombinants were prepared in which epithelium and/or stroma was devoid of progesterone receptor (PR) by using uterine epithelium and stroma of wild-type and PR knockout mice. Progesterone inhibited uterine epithelial apoptosis only in tissue recombinants prepared with PR-positive stroma. The PR status of the epithelium did not affect epithelial apoptotic index. Therefore, the apoptosis in prostatic and uterine epithelia is regulated by androgen and progesterone via stromal AR and PR, respectively. In both cases, epithelial AR or PR is not required for hormonal regulation of epithelial apoptosis in prostatic and uterine epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Androgens / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Paracrine Communication / physiology*
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Prostate / cytology
  • Prostate / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Steroids / metabolism*
  • Steroids / pharmacology
  • Uterus / cytology
  • Uterus / metabolism*


  • Androgens
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Steroids
  • Progesterone