Endogenous estrogens inhibit mouse fetal Leydig cell development via estrogen receptor alpha.

  • Date de publication : 2005-04-18


Delbès G, Levacher C, Duquenne C, Racine C, Pakarinen P, Habert R. Endogenous estrogens inhibit mouse fetal Leydig cell development via estrogen receptor alpha. Endocrinology. 2005;146:2454-61. doi: 10.1210/en.2004-1540. PubMed PMID: 15661855.

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Mot(s) Clé(s)

animals animals, newborn cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme diethylstilbestrol estrogen receptor alpha estrogens female fetus leydig cells luteinizing hormone male mice mice, inbred c57bl mice, knockout organ culture techniques phosphoproteins pregnancy rna, messenger steroid 17-alpha-hydroxylase testis testosterone


It is now accepted that estrogens play a role in male fertility and that exposure to exogenous estrogens during fetal/neonatal life can lead to reproductive disorders in the male. However, the estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated processes involved in the regulation of male reproduction during fetal and neonatal development are still largely unclear. We previously reported that ER beta deficiency affects gametogenesis in mice but changes neither the number nor the differentiated functions of fetal Leydig cells. We show here that ER alpha-deficient mice (ER alpha-/-) display higher levels of testicular testosterone secretion than wild-type mice from fetal d 13.5 onwards. This results from higher levels of steroidogenic activity per fetal Leydig cell, as indicated by the hypertrophy of these cells and the higher levels of mRNA for StAR, P450c17 and P450scc in the testis, for a similar number of Leydig cells. Because LH is not produced on fetal d 13.5 and because no change in plasma LH concentration was observed in 2-d-old ER alpha-deficient mice, LH is probably not involved in the effects of estrogens on testicular steroidogenesis in fetal and early neonatal Leydig cells. Furthermore, inactivation of ER beta did not change the effect of ER alpha inactivation on steroidogenesis. Lastly, in an organ culture system, 1 mum diethylstilbestrol decreased the testosterone secretion of wild-type fetal and neonatal testes but not of ER alpha-/- testes. Thus, this study shows that endogenous estrogens physiologically inhibit steroidogenesis via ER alpha by acting directly on the testis early in fetal and neonatal development.