Increased expression of alpha- and beta-globin mRNAs at the pituitary following exposure to estrogen during the critical period of neonatal sex differentiation in the rat
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Deterioration of reproductive health in human and wildlife species during the past decades has drawn considerable attention to the potential adverse effects of exposure to xenosteroids during sensitive periods of sex development. The hypothalamic-pituitary (HP) unit is a key element in the neuroendocrine system controlling development and function of the reproductive axis; the HP unit being highly sensitive to the organizing effects of endogenous and exogenous sex steroids. To gain knowledge on the molecular mode of action and potential biomarkers of exposure to estrogenic compounds at the HP unit, we screened for differentially expressed genes at the pituitary and hypothalamus of rats after neonatal exposure to estradiol benzoate. Our analyses identified persistent up-regulation of alpha- and beta-globin mRNAs at the pituitary following neonatal estrogenization. This finding was confirmed by combination of RT-PCR analyses and in situ hybridization. Induction of alpha- and beta-globin mRNA expression at the pituitary by neonatal exposure to estrogen was demonstrated as dose-dependent and it was persistently detected up to puberty. In contrast, durable up-regulation of alpha- and beta-globin genes was not detected at the hypothalamus, cortex, cerebellum, liver and testis. Finally, enhanced levels of alpha- and beta-globin mRNAs at the pituitary were also demonstrated after neonatal administration of the anti-androgen flutamide. In summary, alpha- and beta-globin genes may prove as sensitive, pituitary-specific biomarkers of exposure to estrogenic (and/or anti-androgenic) compounds at critical periods of sex development, whose potential in the assessment of endocrine disrupting events at the HP unit merits further investigation.
|Journal||Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2006|