The Roles of Estrogens in the Efferent Ductules of the Male Reproductive System : A Review

  • Min, Tae-Sun (National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF)) ;
  • Lee, Ki-Ho (National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF))
  • Received : 2010.02.16
  • Accepted : 2010.03.16
  • Published : 2010.08.01


Male reproduction is influenced by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including environmental endocrine disruptors. Testosterone is a well recognized intrinsic regulator for development and function of the male reproductive tract, and thus male fertility. The testis and semen of many mammalians contain an unusually high concentration of estrogen. Testosterone is converted into estrogen by the enzymatic action of cytochrome P450 aromatase complex (Cyp19a1). Of the male reproductive tract, the efferent ductules (EDs) possess exceptionally elevated levels of estrogen receptors (ERs), ER${\alpha}$ and ER${\beta}$, indicating that estrogen, in addition to testosterone, would have a functional role in regulation of male reproduction. First, this review has focused on description and summary of what is currently known for functions of estrogen in the EDs. The biosynthetic pathway of estrogen occurring in the testis is briefly covered, following by detailed explanation of the morphology and physiology of EDs. In the next section, the sources and targets of estrogen in the male reproductive tract are highlighted, and possible functional roles of estrogen in the EDs are justified from the aspect of physiology, molecular biology, and morphology in adult animal models. Also, this section covers the importance of estrogen and ERs in maintaining normal function and morphology of the EDs during postnatal development. In the last part of this review, the effects of extrinsic factors, especially environmental endocrine-disruptors, on the EDs is summarized. The intent of this review is to emphasize the importance of estrogen for regulation of physiological function of the EDs, and thus male fertility.


Estrogens;Efferent Ductules;Estrogen Receptors;Male Fertility;Environmental Endocrine Disruptor


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