We examined the effects of maternal exposure to estrogens on platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor (PDGFR) expression in newborn rat testis. Pregnant rats were treated from gestation Day 14 to birth with corn oil containing diethylstilbestrol, bisphenol A, genistein, or coumestrol by gavage or subcutaneous injection. These treatments induced a dose-dependent increase in the expression of PDGFR α and β mRNAs, determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, though diethylstilbestrol had a biphasic effect on both mRNAs. In situ hybridization analysis showed that PDGFRα mRNA increased mostly in the interstitium, while PDGFRβ mRNA increased both in the interstitium and seminiferous cords. Immunohistochemical studies of PDGFRα and β proteins revealed that both receptors were present in testis before and after birth and that they were upregulated upon treatment with estrogens in 3-day-old rats, with PDGFRβ increasing dramatically in gonocytes. PDGFRα and β mRNAs and proteins were also found in purified gonocytes. Our previous finding that PDGF and 17β-estradiol induce gonocyte proliferation in vitro, together with the present finding that in vivo exposure to estrogens upregulates PDGF receptors in testis, suggest that PDGF pathway is a target of estrogens in testis. In addition, these data identify PDGFRβ in gonocytes as a major target of gestational estrogen exposure, suggesting that estrogen may have a physiological interaction with PDGF during gonocyte development. These results, however, do not exclude the possibility that the effects of the compounds examined in this study might be due to estrogen receptor-independent action(s).
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