Epididymal phenotype in luteinizing hormone receptor knockout animals and its response to testosterone replacement therapy

Biol Reprod. 2003 Mar;68(3):888-95. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.102.009738.


Previous studies reported that epididymis contains functional LH receptors. The LH receptor knockout mice, which have epididymal phenotypes, gave us an opportunity to test the hypothesis that testosterone replacement alone may not be sufficient to reverse phenotypes to wild-type epididymis. The morphological phenotype in knockout animals includes a decrease in luminal diameter of the proximal and distal caput and cauda epididymis, the absence of clear and halo cells in the epithelial lining, a decrease in the height of principal cells and the number of cells containing cilia, a decrease in cilia length, and a change from basal to central location of nuclei in the principal cells. The biochemical phenotype includes a decrease in periodic acid-Schiff reaction product, reflecting the glycogen and glycoprotein synthesis and secretion, a decrease in androgen receptor (AR) and estrogen receptor (ER)beta, and an increase in ERalpha levels. Twenty-one-day testosterone replacement therapy in 30-day-old knockout animals reversed some, but not all, morphological and biochemical phenotypes. Those that did not reverse include luminal diameters of proximal and distal caput and cauda epididymis, the percentage of ciliated principal cells in caput epididymis, and nuclear AR localization. In summary, while our results reaffirm that androgens are important for normal epididymal morphology and function, they indicate that LH could be required for certain facets of epididymal morphology and/or function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Epididymis / drug effects*
  • Epididymis / physiology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenotype
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / physiology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Receptors, LH / genetics
  • Receptors, LH / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, LH
  • Testosterone
  • RNA