Tissue distribution of estrogen receptors alpha (ER-alpha) and beta (ER-beta) mRNA in the midgestational human fetus

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997 Oct;82(10):3509-12. doi: 10.1210/jcem.82.10.4400.


We compared the expression profiles of the mRNAs of both estrogen receptors, ER-alpha and the recently cloned ER-beta, in the midgestational human fetus by semiquantitative RT-PCR. ER-alpha was most abundant in the uterus, and smaller quantities were detected in the ovary, testis, skin and gut. High amounts of ER-beta mRNA were present in fetal ovaries, testes, adrenals and spleen. In these tissues, the levels of ER-beta mRNA were higher than ER-alpha. In the uterus, however, ER-alpha mRNA was more abundant, and ER-beta mRNA was expressed only moderately. ER-beta mRNA was present at moderate to low levels in the thymus, pituitary gland, skin, lung, kidney and brain cortex. In the course of our work, using the ER-beta primers on genomic DNA, an intron of 2468 bp in length, located between nt 222 and 223 in the A/B domain of ER-beta cDNA, was detected, cloned and sequenced. The study shows that the expression profile of the two ERs is different, and ER-beta is expressed in a variety of tissues during human fetal development, suggesting different, organ-specific roles for the two receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Introns / genetics
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Estrogen

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF014796