Expression of estrogen receptors alpha and beta in the fetal baboon testis and epididymis

Biol Reprod. 2004 Apr;70(4):1106-13. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.103.022665. Epub 2003 Dec 10.


Although studies in transgenic mice suggest that estrogen is important for development of the testis, very little is known about the potential role of estrogen in maturation of the primate fetal testis. Therefore, as a first step to determine whether estrogen regulates maturation of the fetal primate testis, we used immunocytochemistry to determine estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and beta expression in the fetal baboon testis. Second, we established methods to quantify ERbeta mRNA levels by competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in Sertoli cells isolated by laser capture microdissection (LCM) from the fetal baboon testis. ERbeta protein expression was abundant in the nuclei of Sertoli, peritubular, and interstitial cells in baboon fetuses at mid (Day 100) and late (Day 165) gestation (term is 184 days). ERbeta mRNA level was 0.03 attomole/femtomole 18S rRNA in Sertoli cell nuclei and associated cytoplasm isolated by LCM. ERalpha was expressed in low level in seminiferous tubules and in moderate level in peritubular cells on Day 165. Germ cells expressed very little ERalpha or ERbeta protein, whereas the baboon fetal epididymis exhibited extensive ERalpha and ERbeta immunostaining at mid- and late gestation. In contrast to the robust expression of ERbeta, androgen receptor protein was not demonstrable within the cells of the seminiferous cords but was abundantly expressed in epididymal epithelial cells of the fetal baboon. In summary, the results of this study show that the fetal baboon testis and epididymis expressed the ERalpha and ERbeta, and we suggest that our nonhuman primate baboon model can be used to study the potential role of estrogen on maturation of the fetal testis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Epididymis / embryology*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inhibins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Papio
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism
  • Testis / embryology*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • inhibin-alpha subunit
  • Inhibins
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases