Immunohistochemical evidence: testicular and scented glandular androgen synthesis in muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) during the breeding season

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Q. Li
J. Weng
H. Zhang
L. Lu
X. Ma
Q. Wang
H. Cao
S. Liu
M. Xu
Q. Weng *
G. Watanabe
K. Taya
(*) Corresponding Author:
Q. Weng |


In order to elucidate the relationship between androgens and the function of the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) scented glands during the breeding season, we investigated immunolocalization of steroidogenic enzymes P450scc, 3βHSD and P450c17 in the muskrat testes and scented glands. Nine adult muskrats were obtained in March (n=3), May (n=3) and July (n=3) 2010. Steroidogenic enzymes were immunolocalized using polyclonal antisera raised against bovine adrenal P450scc, human placental 3βHSD and porcine testicular P450c17. Histologically, all types of spermatogenic cells including mature–phase spermatozoa in seminiferous tubules were observed in all testes. Glandular cells, interstitial cells, epithelial cells and excretory tubules were identified in scented glands during the breeding season. P450scc, 3βHSD and P450c17 were only identified in Leydig cells during the breeding season; P450scc and P450c17 were observed in glandular cells of scented glands, however, 3βHSD was not found in scented glands during the breeding season. These novel findings provide the first evidence showing that scented glands of the muskrats are capable of locally synthesizing androgens and androgens acting via an endocrine, autocrine or paracrine manner may play an important role in scented gland function during the breeding season.

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