Oestrogen, its receptors and function in the male reproductive tract - A review

Rex A. Hess, David Bunick, Janice Bahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oestrogen is synthesized in the male reproductive system by at least three different cell types; Sertoli, Leydig and germ cells. Although testosterone is recognized as the primary sex steroid in man, oestrogen is produced in sizable quantities in the testis, as well as the brain and is found in extremely high concentrations in the semen of several species. The high concentration of oestrogen in rete testis fluid of the rodent is now thought to be derived from the conversion of testosterone to estradiol by P450 aromatase in germ cells of the testis and spermatozoa traversing the reproductive tract. This new major source of oestrogen would target oestrogen receptors in the male reproductive tract, in particular the efferent ductules, which contain the highest concentration of oestrogen receptor-α. This recent data raises new hypotheses regarding the role of oestrogen in the function of the male reproductive system. The oestrogen receptor-α knockout mouse was used to help define the function of oestrogen in the male. It was found that oestrogen receptor-α is essential for fluid reabsorption in the efferent ductules and in the absence of expression the male is infertile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 19 2001


  • Efferent ductules
  • Epididymis
  • Fluid reabsorption
  • Oestrogen receptor
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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