Steroidogenic enzyme and steroid receptor expression in the equine accessory sex glands

Robyn E. Ellerbrock, Giorgia Podico, Kirsten E. Scoggin, Barry A. Ball, Mariano Carossino, Igor F. Canisso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The expression pattern and distribution of sex steroid receptors and steroidogenic enzymes during development of the equine accessory sex glands has not previously been described. We hypothesized that equine steroidogenic enzyme and sex steroid receptor expression is dependent on reproductive status. Accessory sex glands were harvested from mature stallions, pre-pubertal colts, geldings, and fetuses. Expression of mRNA for estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1), estrogen receptor 2 (ESR2), androgen receptor (AR), 3β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/∆5-4 isomerase (3βHSD), P450,17α hydroxylase, 17–20 lyase (CYP17), and aromatase (CYP19) were quantified by RT-PCR, and protein localization of AR, ER-α, ER-β, and 3βHSD were investigated by immunohistochemistry. Expression of AR, ESR2, CYP17, or CYP19 in the ampulla was not different across reproductive statuses (p > 0.1), while expression of ESR1 was higher in the ampulla of geldings and fetuses than those of stallions or colts (p < 0.05). AR, ESR1 and ESR2 expression were decreased in stallion vesicular glands compared to the fetus or gelding, while AR, ESR1, and CYP17 expression were decreased in the bulbourethral glands compared to other glands. ESR1 expression was increased in the prostate compared to the bulbourethral glands, and no differences were seen with CYP19 or 3β-HSD. In conclusion, sex steroid receptors are expressed in all equine male accessory sex glands in all stages of life, while the steroidogenic enzymes were weakly and variably expressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2322
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Ampulla
  • Bulbourethral gland
  • Fetus
  • Prostate
  • Stallion
  • Vesicular gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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