Article ID: 2012-139
Estrogen action is mediated through several types of receptors (ERs), such as ERα, ERβ and putative membrane ERs. Oxytocin receptor (OTR) and ER expression levels in the rat uterus are regulated by estrogen; however, which types of ERs are involved has not been elucidated. This study examined OTR, ERα and ERβ levels in ovariectomized rats treated with 17β-estradiol (E2), an ERα agonist (PPT), an ERβ agonist (DPN) or estren (Es). E2 and PPT increased OTR mRNA levels and decreased ERα and ERβ mRNA levels 3 and 6 h posttreatment. DPN decreased ERα and ERβ mRNA levels at 3 and 6 h, while OTR mRNA levels increased at 3 h and decreased at 6 h. OTR mRNA levels increased 3 h after the Es treatment and then declined until 6 h. ERα and ERβ mRNA levels decreased by 3 h and remained low until 6 h posttreatment with Es. The ER antagonist ICI182,780 (ICI) suppressed the increases in OTR mRNA levels induced 3 h after the Es treatment. However, ICI and tamoxifen (Tam) had no significant effect on ERα and ERβ mRNA levels in the Es-treated or vehicle-treated group. In intact rats, proestrus-associated increases in OTR mRNA levels were antagonized by both ICI and Tam. However, decreases in ERα and ERβ mRNA levels were not antagonized by Tam and ICI, respectively. Therefore, uterine OTR gene expression is upregulated by estrogen through the classical nuclear (or non-nuclear) ERs, ERα and ERβ, while the levels of these ERs are downregulated by estrogen through multiple pathways including Es-sensitive nonclassical ERs.