Subfertile female androgen receptor knockout mice exhibit defects in neuroendocrine signaling, intraovarian function, and uterine development but not uterine function

K. A. Walters, Kirsten J McTavish, M. G. Seneviratne, Juan M Jimenez, A. C. McMahon, C. M. Allan, L. A. Salamonsen, David J Handelsman

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Female androgen receptor (AR) knockout mice (AR-/-) generated by an in-frame Ar exon 3 deletion are subfertile, but the mechanism is not clearly defined. To distinguish between extra- and intraovarian defects, reciprocal ovarian transplants were undertaken. Ovariectomized AR-/- hosts with wild-type (AR+/+) ovary transplants displayed abnormal estrus cycles, with longer cycles (50%, P < 0.05), and 66% were infertile (P < 0.05), whereas AR+/+ hosts with either AR-/- or surgical control AR+/+ ovary transplants displayed normal estrus cycles and fertility. These data imply a neuroendocrine defect, which is further supported by increased FSH (P <0.05) and estradiol (P <0.05), and greater LH suppressibility by estradiol in AR-/- females at estrus (P <0.05). Additional intraovarian defects were observed by the finding that both experimental transplant groups exhibited significantly reduced pups per litter (P < 0.05) and corpora lutea numbers (P < 0.05) compared with surgical controls. All groups exhibited normal uterine and lactation functions. AR -/- uteri were morphologically different from AR+/+ with an increase in horn length (P < 0.01) but a reduction in uterine diameter (P < 0.05), total uterine area (P < 0.05), endometrial area (P < 0.05), and myometrial area (P < 0.01) at diestrus, indicating a role for AR in uterine growth and development. Both experimental transplant groups displayed a significant reduction in uterine diameter (P < 0.01) compared with transplanted wild-type controls, indicating a role for both AR-mediated intraovarian and intrauterine influences on uterine physiology. In conclusion, these data provide direct evidence that extraovarian neuroendocrine, but not uterine effects, as well as local intraovarian AR-mediated actions are important in maintaining female fertility, and a disruption of AR signaling leads to altered uterine development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3274-3282
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

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