Prenatal exposure to estrogenic compounds alters the expression pattern of platelet-derived growth factor receptors alpha and beta in neonatal rat testis: identification of gonocytes as targets of estrogen exposure

Biol Reprod. 2003 Mar;68(3):867-80. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.102.009605.


We examined the effects of maternal exposure to estrogens on platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor (PDGFR) expression in newborn rat testis. Pregnant rats were treated from gestation Day 14 to birth with corn oil containing diethylstilbestrol, bisphenol A, genistein, or coumestrol by gavage or subcutaneous injection. These treatments induced a dose-dependent increase in the expression of PDGFR alpha and beta mRNAs, determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, though diethylstilbestrol had a biphasic effect on both mRNAs. In situ hybridization analysis showed that PDGFRalpha mRNA increased mostly in the interstitium, while PDGFRbeta mRNA increased both in the interstitium and seminiferous cords. Immunohistochemical studies of PDGFRalpha and beta proteins revealed that both receptors were present in testis before and after birth and that they were upregulated upon treatment with estrogens in 3-day-old rats, with PDGFRbeta increasing dramatically in gonocytes. PDGFRalpha and beta mRNAs and proteins were also found in purified gonocytes. Our previous finding that PDGF and 17beta-estradiol induce gonocyte proliferation in vitro, together with the present finding that in vivo exposure to estrogens upregulates PDGF receptors in testis, suggest that PDGF pathway is a target of estrogens in testis. In addition, these data identify PDGFRbeta in gonocytes as a major target of gestational estrogen exposure, suggesting that estrogen may have a physiological interaction with PDGF during gonocyte development. These results, however, do not exclude the possibility that the effects of the compounds examined in this study might be due to estrogen receptor-independent action(s).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Coumestrol / toxicity
  • Diethylstilbestrol / toxicity
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Genistein / toxicity
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / genetics
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Testis / metabolism*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Phenols
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Diethylstilbestrol
  • Genistein
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta
  • bisphenol A
  • Coumestrol