Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization of the androgen receptor in the developing human prostate

Gerhard Aumüller*, Paul Martin Holterhus, Lutz Konrad, Burkhard Von Rahden, Olaf Hiort, Murielle Esquenet, Guido Verhoeven

*Corresponding author for this work
16 Citations (Scopus)


As it is suggested that the androgen receptor mechanism is required for prostatic development, we attempted to determine the appearance, expression and distribution of the androgen receptor in embryonic, infantile and pubertal human prostate. Using mono- and polyclonal antibodies and a digoxigenin-labeled 713 bp riboprobe, the androgen receptor expression in paraffin sections of fetal, infantile, and pubertal prostates was studied at the protein and RNA level. Under highly standardized conditions, application of the polyclonal antibodies resulted in a weak cytoplasmic and nuclear labeling of the epithelium of fetal glands. No immunoreaction was obtained with monoclonal antibodies. Applying the polyclonal antibody to pubertal and adult specimens, immunoreactivity of the androgen receptor was positive in nuclei of adluminal and basal epithelial cells, in interstitial and vascular smooth muscle cells and vascular endothelium, whereas ganglionic cells and enteroendocrine cells were negative. In situ hybridization with the digoxigenin-labeled riboprobe gave clear positive results already in epithelium of very young fetal specimens. A semiquantitative visual evaluation of in situ hybridizations showed that intermediate intensity of expression was increased in pubertal and adult specimens, whereas strong expression was reduced in prostatic epithelium. Conclusions: The essential findings are: (1) an early expression of androgen receptor mRNA in the fetal prostate; (2) no immunoreaction of monoclonal antibodies against the androgen receptor in the same specimens, (3) a decrease of androgen receptor mRNA expression, but increase in immunoreactivity of the androgen receptor protein with the onset of glandular maturation during puberty.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnatomy and Embryology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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