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Prenatal programming by testosterone of follicular theca cell functions in ovary.

In mammalian ovaries, the theca layers of growing follicles are critical for maintaining their structural integrity and supporting androgen synthesis. Through combining the postnatal monitoring of ovaries by abdominal magnetic resonance imaging, endocrine profiling, hormonal analysis of the follicular fluid of growing follicles, and transcriptomic analysis of follicular theca cells, we provide evidence that the exposure of ovine fetuses to testosterone excess activates postnatal follicular growth and strongly affects the functions of follicular theca in adulthood. Prenatal exposure to testosterone impaired androgen synthesis in the small antral follicles of adults and affected the expression in their theca cells of a wide array of genes encoding extracellular matrix components, their membrane receptors, and signaling pathways. Most expression changes were uncorrelated with the concentrations of gonadotropins, steroids, and anti-Müllerian hormone in the recent hormonal environment of theca cells, suggesting that these changes rather result from the long-term developmental effects of testosterone on theca cell precursors in fetal ovaries. Disruptions of the extracellular matrix structure and signaling in the follicular theca and ovarian cortex can explain the acceleration of follicle growth through altering the stiffness of ovarian tissue. We propose that these mechanisms participate in the etiology of the polycystic ovarian syndrome, a major reproductive pathology in woman.

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Identification of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals using gene expression biomarkers.

Recent technological advances have moved the field of toxicogenomics from reliance on microarray platforms to high-throughput transcriptomic (HTTr) technologies that measure global gene expression. Gene expression biomarkers are emerging as useful tools for interpreting gene expression profiles to identify perturbations of targets of xenobiotic chemicals including those that act as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Gene expression biomarkers are lists of similarly-regulated genes identified in global gene expression comparisons of cells or tissues 1) exposed to known agonists or antagonists of the transcription factor (TF) and 2) after expression of the TF itself is knocked down/knocked out or overexpressed. Estrogen receptor α (ERα) and androgen receptor (AR) biomarkers have been shown to be very accurate at identifying both agonists (94-97%) and antagonists (93-98%) in microarray data derived from human breast or prostate cancer cell lines. Importantly, the biomarkers have been shown to accurately replicate the results of computational models that predict ERα or AR modulation using multiple ToxCast HT screening assays. An integrated screening strategy using sets of biomarkers that simultaneously predict various EDC targets in relevant cell lines should simplify chemical screening without sacrificing accuracy. The biomarker predictions can be put into the context of the adverse outcome pathway framework to help prioritize chemicals with the greatest risk of potential adverse outcomes in the endocrine systems of animals and people.

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In ovaries with high or low variation in follicle size, granulosa cells of antral follicles exhibit distinct size-related processes.

Antral follicle size might be a valuable additive predictive marker for IVF outcome. To better understand consequences of antral follicle size as a marker for reproductive outcome, we aimed to obtain insight in follicle size-related granulosa cell processes, as granulosa cells play an essential role in follicular development via the production of growth factors, steroids and metabolic intermediates. Using the pig as a model, we compared gene expression in granulosa cells of smaller and larger follicles in the healthy antral follicle pool of sows which had a high variation versus low variation in follicle size. Selected gene expression was confirmed at the protein level. Granulosa cells of smaller antral follicles showed increased cell proliferation, which was accompanied by a metabolic shift towards aerobic glycolysis (i.e. the Warburg effect), similar to other highly proliferating cells. High granulosa cell proliferation rates in smaller follicles might be regulated via increased granulosa cell expression of the androgen receptor and the epidermal growth factor receptor, which are activated in response to locally produced mitogens. While granulosa cells of smaller follicles in the pool are more proliferative, granulosa cells of larger follicles express more maturation markers such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and angiopoietin 1 (ANGPT1) and are therefore more differentiated. As both higher IGF1 and ANGPT1 have been associated with better IVF outcomes, the results of our study imply that including smaller follicles for oocyte aspiration might have negative consequences for IVF outcome.

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Ferredoxin 1b deficiency leads to testis disorganization, impaired spermatogenesis and feminization in zebrafish.

The roles of steroids in zebrafish sex differentiation, gonadal development and function of the adult gonad are poorly understood. Herein, we have employed a ferredoxin 1b (fdx1b) mutant zebrafish to explore such processes. Fdx1b is an essential electron-providing cofactor to mitochondrial steroidogenic enzymes, which are crucial for glucocorticoid and androgen production in vertebrates. Fdx1b-/- zebrafish mutants develop into viable adults, in which concentrations of androgens and the glucocorticoid, cortisol, are significantly reduced. Adult fdx1b-/- mutant zebrafish display predominantly female secondary sex characteristics but may possess either ovaries or testes, confirming that androgen signaling is dispensable for testicular differentiation in this species, as previously demonstrated in androgen receptor mutant zebrafish. Adult male fdx1b-/- mutant zebrafish do not exhibit characteristic breeding behaviors, and sperm production is reduced, resulting in infertility in standard breeding scenarios. However, eggs collected from wild-type females can be fertilized by the sperm of fdx1b-/- mutant males by IVF. The testes of fdx1b-/- mutant males are disorganized and lack defined seminiferous tubule structure. Expression of several pro-male and spermatogenic genes is decreased in the testes of fdx1b-/- mutant males, including pro-male transcription factor SRY-box 9a (sox9a) and spermatogenic genes insulin-like growth factor 3 (igf3) and insulin-like 3 (insl3). This study establishes an androgen- and cortisol-deficient fdx1b zebrafish mutant as a model for understanding the impacts of steroid deficiency on sex development and reproductive function. This model will be particularly useful for further investigation of the roles of steroids in spermatogenesis, gonadal development and regulation of reproductive behavior, thus enabling further elucidation of the physiological consequences of endocrine disruption in vertebrates.

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CAG polymorphism in the in women may be associated with nodulocystic acne.

Acne vulgaris (AV) is a multifactorial, inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous unit. Hormones play a major role in the pathogenesis of acne. In cases of hyperandrogenism; hirsutism, acne, seborrhoea and alopecia appear in women. However, severe acne can also be seen without evidence of hyperandrogenism. In this case, hypersensitivity of the (ARG) encoded in the X chromosome, which is the only receptor for androgens, can be considered. ARG contains a polymorphic CAG triple loop encoding the polyglutamine pathway at the 5'end of exon 1.

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Androgen receptor signalling in the male adrenal facilitates X-zone regression, cell turnover and protects against adrenal degeneration during ageing.

Androgens are known to be an essential regulator of male health. Androgen receptor (AR) is widely expressed throughout the adrenal cortex, yet the wider role for androgen signalling in the adrenal remains underexplored. To investigate AR-dependent and AR-independent androgen signalling in the adrenal, we used a novel mouse model with a specific ablation of androgen receptor in the adrenal cortex with or without reduction of circulating androgen levels by castration. Our results describe AR expression in the human and mouse adrenal and highlight that the mouse is a viable model to investigate androgen signalling in the adrenal cortex. We show androgen signalling via AR is required for X-zone regression during puberty. Furthermore, cortex measurements define differences in X-zone morphology depending on whether circulating androgens or AR have been removed. We show androgens promote both cortical cell differentiation and apoptosis but are dispensable for the formation of the definitive cortex. Additionally, investigation of aged mice with AR ablation reveals severe cortex disruption, spindle cell hyperplasia and X-zone expansion. The data described herein demonstrates AR-signalling is required to facilitate X-zone regression, cell clearance and to protect against adrenal degeneration during ageing.

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Prognostic Role of Androgen Receptor in Triple Negative Breast Cancer: A Multi-Institutional Study.

The androgen receptor (AR) has emerged as a potential therapeutic target for AR-positive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, conflicting reports regarding AR's prognostic role in TNBC are putting its usefulness in question. Some studies conclude that AR positivity indicates a good prognosis in TNBC, whereas others suggest the opposite, and some show that AR status has no significant bearing on the patients' prognosis.

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Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have specific impacts on the mouse uterus.

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have been proposed as therapeutics for women suffering from breast cancer, muscle wasting or urinary incontinence. The androgen receptor (AR) is expressed in the uterus but the impact of SARMs on the function of this organ is unknown. We used a mouse model to compare the impact of SARMs (GTx-007/Andarine, GTx-024/Enobosarm), Danazol (a synthetic androstane steroid) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on tissue architecture, cell proliferation and gene expression. Ovariectomised mice were treated daily for 7 days with compound or vehicle control (VC). Uterine morphometric characteristics were quantified using high-throughput image analysis (StrataQuest; TissueGnostics), protein and gene expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and RT-qPCR, respectively. Treatment with GTx-024, Danazol or DHT induced significant increases in body weight, uterine weight and the surface area of the endometrial stromal and epithelial compartments compared to VC. Treatment with GTx-007 had no impact on these parameters. GTx-024, Danazol and DHT all significantly increased the percentage of Ki67-positive cells in the stroma, but only GTx-024 had an impact on epithelial cell proliferation. GTx-007 significantly increased uterine expression of Wnt4 and Wnt7a, whereas GTx-024 and Danazol decreased their expression. In summary, the impact of GTx-024 and Danazol on uterine cells mirrored that of DHT, whereas GTx-007 had minimal impact on the tested parameters. This study has identified endpoints that have revealed differences in the effects of SARMs on uterine tissue and provides a template for preclinical studies comparing the impact of compounds targeting the AR on endometrial function.

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Ginsenoside Rb1 inhibits vascular calcification as a selective androgen receptor modulator.

Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1), a major component of ginseng, has a steroidal chemical structure, implying that it exerts sex hormone-like actions. Recent studies have been suggested cardioprotective actions of Rb1. However, the actions of Rb1 in vascular calcification, one of the significant pathological features associated with aging and atherosclerosis, have not been examined. In the present study, we examined the effects of Rb1 on vascular calcification, focusing on its androgen-like actions. Using inorganic phosphate (Pi)-induced calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), we found that Rb1, like testosterone, significantly inhibited calcium deposition in a concentration-dependent manner. Further, this inhibition of Rb1 was abolished by bicalutamide, an androgen receptor antagonist, but not by MPP or PHTPP, estrogen receptor α or β antagonists. Rb1 significantly inhibited apoptosis, one of the regulatory mechanisms of calcification, and restored growth arrest-specific gene 6 (Gas6) expression that was suppressed by Pi. Moreover, Rb1 transactivated Gas6, and proximal androgen-responsive element (ARE) of the promoter region was found to be crucial for Gas6 transactivation. In contrast, in a human prostate cancer cell line, testosterone-induced ARE activity was abrogated by Rb1. This antagonistic effect was also confirmed by the transrepression and downregulation of prostate-specific antigen in the presence of testosterone and Rb1 together. Thus, these findings provide a novel mechanistic insight into the vasculoprotective actions of Rb1 as a selective androgen receptor modulator, i.e., inhibitory effects on VSMC calcification through androgen receptor-mediated Gas6 transactivation and antagonistic effects in prostate cancer cells.

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Predictive and targeting value of IGFBP-3 in therapeutically resistant prostate cancer.

Our previous studies demonstrated that a novel quinazoline derivative, DZ-50, inhibited prostate cancer epithelial cell invasion and survival by targeting insulin-like-growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) and mediating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) conversion to mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET). This study investigated the therapeutic value of DZ-50 agent in and models of advanced prostate cancer and the ability of the compound to overcome resistance to antiandrogen (enzalutamide) in prostate tumors.

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