We examined nuclear estrogen receptors (ER) and progestin receptors (PR) in the rhesus monkey prostate. Tissues were obtained from six intact males, five untreated castrates, six castrates treated with testosterone (T) for 6 weeks, and four castrates treated with estradiol (E2) for 6 weeks. Samples of the caudal lobe were either assayed biochemically for ER or stained immunocytochemically (ICC) with monoclonal antibodies against the ER or PR. Prostates from untreated castrates had significantly more ER than tissues from intact or T-treated castrates. In E2-treated castrates, ER number increased compared to that in intact and T-treated castrates. With ICC, ER was found only in the nuclei of the fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells of the stroma, not the glandular, ductal, or urethral epithelial cells. Intact and T-treated castrates had a very small number of positive cells, while untreated and E2-treated castrates had a significantly increased number of positive ER cells in the fibromuscular stroma. With ICC, PR was absent in intact or Ttreated animals and barely evident in untreated castrates, but was significantly increased in the fibromuscular stroma of E2- treated castrates. The histological preparations indicated there was no stromal hypertrophy in the E2-treated castrates, but the E2 treatment did cause dilation of the glandular acini. Aromatase activity was measured in prostatic microsomes with a radiometric assay. Levels were low (3-30 fmol/h · mg protein) compared to those in brain and placenta, and no differences in activity were seen between castrates and T-treated castrates. Our data demonstrate that androgens can suppress the level of nuclear ER in the rhesus prostate, and that E2 treatment of castrates can induce PR in the same cells as those that contain ER. Thus, under appropriate conditions, estrogens could affect the rhesus prostate through a receptor-mediated pathway.
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