LXRs modify the neonatal effects of DES on the expression of Leydig and Sertoli cell markers

Liver X receptors interfere with the deleterious effect of diethylstilbestrol on testicular physiology


  • Part of the neonatal effect of DES on testis needs the presence of Lxrα/β.
  • Some DES-induced pathways are blocked in Lxr-deficient mice.
  • Lxr-deficient mice analysis defines DES-target genes protected by Lxr.

2014 Study Abstract

Liver X receptors LXRα (NR1H3) and LXRβ (NR1H2) are transcription factors belonging to the nuclear receptor superfamily, activated by specific oxysterols, oxidized derivatives of cholesterol.

These receptors are involved in the regulation of testis physiology. Lxr-deficient mice pointed to the physiological roles of these nuclear receptors in steroid synthesis, lipid homeostasis and germ cell apoptosis and proliferation.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen considered as an endocrine disruptor that affects the functions of the testis. Various lines of evidences have made a clear link between estrogens, their nuclear receptors ERα (NR3A1) and ERβ (NR3A2), and Lxrα/β.

As LXR activity could also be regulated by the nuclear receptor small heterodimer partner (SHP, NR0A2) and DES could act through SHP, we wondered whether LXR could be targeted by estrogen-like endocrine disruptors such as DES.

For that purpose, wild-type and Lxr-deficient mice were daily treated with 0.75 μg DES from days 1 to 5 after birth. The effects of DES were investigated at 10 or 45 days of age. We demonstrated that DES induced a decrease of the body mass at 10 days only in the Lxr-deficient mice suggesting a protective effect of Lxr.

We defined three categories of DES-target genes in testis:

  • those whose accumulation is independent of Lxr;
  • those whose accumulation is enhanced by the lack of both Lxrα/β;
  • those whose accumulation is repressed by the absence of Lxrα/β.

Lipid accumulation is also modified by neonatal DES injection. Lxr-deficient mice present different lipid profiles, demonstrating that DES could have its effects in part due to Lxrα/β.

Altogether, our study shows that both nuclear receptors Lxrα and Lxrβ are not only basally important for testicular physiology but could also have a preventive effect against estrogen-like endocrine disruptors.

Sources and more information
  • Liver X receptors interfere with the deleterious effect of diethylstilbestrol on testicular physiology, Biochemical and biophysical research communications, NCBI PubMed PMID: 24333430 , 2014 Apr.
  • Liver X receptors as integrators of metabolic and inflammatory signaling featured image credit jci.

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