INTRODUCTION: Estrogens are well recognized as important hormones in male reproduction and act as ligands to alpha and beta estrogen receptors. Both estrogen receptors could interact with estrogen-mimicking compounds such as the fluorescent phytoestrogen coumestrol, which acts both in an agonist or antagonist fashion.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the presence of Coumestrol-Estrogen Receptor complexes by fluorescence in testis and epididymis, its effect in the ER expression by immunostain in the same tissues and the effect of this binding in the testis histological characteristics.
DESIGN: Adult healthy and sexually active dogs were assigned to either the experimental or control group .Coumestrol impregnated dog biscuits were given to each animal from the experimental group once a week for a 4 week period. The control group received a biscuit with no Coumestrol, also once a week and for the same period. Testis morphology, ER immunodetection, and coumestrol-receptor binding were evaluated.
SETTING: The experiment was done in the facilities of the Mexico City canine shelter. Animals were caged individually with food and water ad libitum and having at least two daily hours for exercise.
RESULTS: Morphological alterations in testis after oral administration of coumestrol were detected. The main alterations include decreased germinal epithelium in tubule, and the loss of a continuous proliferation and differentiation gamete layer. Fluorescence signals in testis interstitial Leydig cells and epididymus indicating ER-coumestrol complexes were detected at the same points to those Immunohystochemically detected ER.
CONCLUSIONS: Coumestrol administration induces testis alterations and coumestrol-ER complexes can be co-localized by binding-enhanced fluorescence and immunoprecipitation.