Human sperm liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1) acts as a downstream target of the estrogen signaling pathway

Daniela Montanaro, Marta Santoro, Amalia Carpino, Ida Perrotta, Francesca De Amicis, Rosa Sirianni, Vittoria Rago, Serena Gervasi, Saveria Aquila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the last decade, the study of human sperm anatomy, at molecular level, has revealed the presence of several nuclear protein receptors. In this work, we examined the expression profile and the ultrastructural localization of liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1) in human spermatozoa. We evidenced the presence of the receptor by Western blotting and real time-RT-PCR. Furthermore, we used immunogold electron microscopy to investigate the sperm anatomical regions containing LRH-1. The receptor was mainly located in the sperm head, whereas its expression was reduced in the neck and across the tail. Interestingly, we observed the presence of LRH-1 in different stages of testicular germ cell development by immunohistochemistry. In somatic cells, it has been suggested that the LRH-1 pathway is tightly linked with estrogen signaling and the important role of estradiol has been widely studied in sperm cells. To assess the significance of LRH-1 in male gametes and to deepen understanding of the role of estrogens in these cells, we investigated important sperm features such as motility, survival and capacitation. Spermatozoa were treated with 10 nm estradiol and the inhibition of LRH-1 reversed the estradiol stimulatory action. From our data, we discovered that human spermatozoa can be considered a new site of expression for LRH-1, evidencing its role in sperm motility, survival and cholesterol efflux. Furthermore, we may presume that in spermatozoa the LRH-1 effects are closely integrated with the estrogen signaling, supporting LRH-1 as a downstream effector of the estradiol pathway on some sperm functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-549
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Estrogen receptors
  • Human sperm anatomy
  • Human testis
  • Liver receptor homolog-1
  • Male genital tract
  • Nuclear receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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