Estrogen and its receptors in efferent ductules and epididymis

Rex A. Hess, Sheilla A.F. Fernandes, Gisele R.O. Gomes, Cleida A. Oliveira, Maria F.M. Lazari, Catarina S. Porto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Estrogens play key roles in the development and maintenance of male reproductive function and fertility. In this review, we briefly describe the localization and function of estrogen receptors ESR1 and ESR2 (also known as ERα and ERβ, respectively) and the expression ofGprotein-coupled estrogen receptor-1 (GPER, formerly known as GPR30) in efferent ductules and epididymis. The efferent ductules present the highest levels of ESR1 and ESR2 in the male reproductive system, and represent a major target of estrogen action. In efferent ductules, ESR1 has a crucial role in the regulation of fluid reabsorption, and in the epididymis the receptor helps to maintain fluid osmolality and pH. ESR1 expression in the epididymal epithelium shows considerable variation among species, but differences in laboratory techniques may also contribute to this variation. Here we report that Esr1 mRNA and protein are higher in corpus than in other regions of the rat epididymis. The mRNA level for Gper was also higher in corpus. Although ESR1 is expressed constitutively in efferent ductules and down-regulated by estrogen, in the epididymis, both testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) may regulate its expression. T and E2 are, respectively, higher and lower in the corpus than in the initial segment/caput and cauda regions. It is important to determine the expression of GPER, ESR1, androgen receptor, and their respective cofactors in specific cell types of this tissue, as well as the intracellular signaling pathways involved in efferent ductules and epididymis. These studies will help to explain the consequences of exposures to environmental endocrine disruptors and provide potential targets for the development of a male contraceptive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-613
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of andrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Estrogen receptors
  • Gper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Urology


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