2005 Volume 30 Issue 2 Pages 75-89
Many chemicals released into the environment potentially disrupt the endocrine system in wildlife and humans. Some of these chemicals exhibit estrogenic activity by binding to the estrogen receptors. The developing organism is particularly sensitive to estrogenic chemicals during the critical period in which the induction of long-term changes and persistent molecular alterations in female reproductive tracts occur. Perinatal mouse and rat models can be utilized as indicators for determining the consequences of exposure to exogenous estrogenic agents, including possible xenoestrogens or environmental endocrine disruptors. Estrogen receptors (ER) and estrogen responsive genes, therefore, need to be identified in order to understand the molecular basis of estrogenic actions. Recent identifications of ER subtypes and isoforms make understanding target organ responses to these estrogenic chemicals even more difficult. Indeed, many reports suggest that these chemicals do affect the reproductive and developmental processes of female laboratory rodents that had been perinatally exposed, and that interactions between sex steroid hormone receptors occur. Much information concerning the expression of sex steroid receptors in rodents has been reported concerning the normal development of the M?llerian duct. Thus, accumulated information on the expression of ER subtypes and isoforms as well as that of progesterone and androgen receptors in laboratory rodents is herein reviewed, in addition to the presentation of our own data.