Aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450arom) is an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of androgen to estrogen. Expression of P450arom in extra-gonadal sites and locally-synthesized estrogen play an important role in physiological conditions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the cellular immunolocalization of androgen receptor (AR), P450arom, estrogen receptor alpha (ERa) and estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) in muskrat scent glands during the breeding season. Histological observation and immunohistochemistry of AR, P450arom, ERa and ERβ were performed in the muskrat scent glands. In addition, total proteins were extracted from scent glandular tissues in the breeding season and were used for Western blotting analysis for AR, P450arom, ERα and ERβ. Histologically, glandular cells, interstitial cells, epithelial cells of the excretory duct and the excretory tubules were identified in the muskrat scent glands during the breeding season. AR was only observed in glandular cells of scent glands; P450arom was expressed in glandular cells and epithelial cells of the excretory duct; ERα was found in glandular cells, interstitial cells and epithelial cells of the excretory duct, whereas ERβ was present in glandular cells and epithelial cells of the excretory duct. Also, the positive signals of AR, P450arom, ERα and ERβ by Western blotting were all observed in scent glandular tissues. These results suggested that the scent gland is the target organ of androgens and estrogens, and that estrogens may play an important autocrine or paracrine role in glandular function of the muskrats.
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Vol. 28 • No. 10