Alterations in gonadotropin, prolactin, androgen and estrogen receptor and steroidogenesis-associated gene expression in gander testes in relation to the annual period

Małgorzata Gumułka*, Anna Hrabia, Israel Rozenboim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Physiological mechanisms of seasonal changes in testicular function in birds are not fully elucidated. The balance between androgens and estrogens and testis sensitivity for gonadotropin and gonadal steroids are still unclear. The aim of the study was to examine: (1) the changes in circulating and intra-testicular steroid hormone levels and their relationship; (2) the mRNA expression of testicular gonadotropin, prolactin (PRL), progesterone (P4), androgen, and estrogen receptors, and (3) key steroidogenesis processes-related genes with immunofluorescent localization of aromatase in gander testes during the annual period. Testes from ganders (n = 25) in the first reproduction season were obtained at five breeding stages, i.e., prebreeding (PrB), peak of reproduction (PR), postbreeding (PoB), nonbreeding (NB), and onset of reproduction (OR). Males were kept under breeding conditions. It was found that plasma P4 levels decreased at the PoB and NB stages, whereas intra-testicular P4 was the highest in the NB stage. Intra-testicular estradiol (E2) levels were higher at the PoB and NB stages than the other stages, whereas testosterone (T) levels showed a nearly opposite pattern. The plasma estradiol–to–testosterone ratios were higher at the PrB, PoB and NB stages compared to other stages. The transcript abundances for luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR), PRL receptor (PRLR), estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), and estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) also change in testicular tissue during the annual period. Moreover, StAR mRNA expression was upregulated at the PoB and NB stages, and CYP11A1 transcript level was the highest at the PoB stage. Stage-dependent changes in the CYP19A1 mRNA and aromatase protein levels with higher abundances of transcript at PoB and NB stages and protein at the NB stage were observed. Localization and immunofluorescent signal intensity for aromatase also differed in relation to the examined stages. It may be suggested that differential E2 levels, as well as aromatase expression and localization across annual stages are responsible for the seasonal activation/inactivation stages of testis spermatogenesis in domestic ganders. These data strongly suggest a role of aromatase in the control of gander steroidogenesis as changes in this enzyme level are associated with alternation in gonadal steroid hormones. In addition, joint action with others hormones, like PRL and LH, seems to be important in the final effect of seasonal reproduction potential.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)94-105
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Aromatase
  • Ganders
  • Seasonal breeding
  • Steroidogenesis
  • Steroidogenic enzymes
  • Testes


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