The liver is a vital organ that sustains multiple functions beneficial for the whole organism. It is sexually dimorphic, presenting sex-biased gene expression with implications for the phenotypic differences between males and females. Estrogens are involved in this sex dimorphism and their actions in the liver of several reptiles, fishes, amphibians, and birds are discussed. The liver participates in reproduction by producing vitellogenins (yolk proteins) and eggshell proteins under the control of estrogens that act via two types of receptors active either mainly in the cell nucleus (ESR) or the cell membrane (GPER1). Estrogens also control hepatic lipid and lipoprotein metabolisms, with a triglyceride carrier role for VLDL from the liver to the ovaries during oogenesis. Moreover, the activation of the vitellogenin genes is used as a robust biomarker for exposure to xenoestrogens. In the context of liver diseases, high plasma estrogen levels are observed in fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome (FLHS) in chicken implicating estrogens in the disease progression. Fishes are also used to investigate liver diseases, including models generated by mutation and transgenesis. In conclusion, studies on the roles of estrogens in the non-mammalian oviparous vertebrate liver have contributed enormously to unveil hormone-dependent physiological and physiopathological processes.
Keywords: G protein-coupled estrogen receptor; estrogen receptors; growth hormone; liver diseases; nuclear receptors; oogenesis; sexual dimorphism; vitellogenin; xenoestrogens; yolk.