The androgen receptor (AR) was measured by an immunoblot assay in adult tissues of both male and female rats. Relatively high levels of AR were detected in tissues of the male urogenital tract and in the adrenal glands and gonads of both sexes. Another group of tissues, including the male levator ani/bulbocavernosus muscles, preputial gland, scrotal skin, and vagina, had low, but detectable, levels of AR. In a third group of tissues, including the uterus, kidney, spleen, liver, gut, heart, lung, pituitary, and hypothalamus, AR was undetectable. In some androgen target tissues, such as the penis, androgens cause an apparent disappearance of AR from the tissue, and in other tissues, such as the ventral prostate, androgen therapy increases the amount of detectable AR. We compared the effect of androgen on AR levels in the adrenal gland and ventral prostate, tissues that differ markedly in their trophic responses to androgen. Castration appeared to have no effect on the amount of detectable AR in the adrenal gland, whereas it caused a profound decrease in AR levels in the ventral prostate. By contrast, 7 days after hypophysectomy, AR levels declined in both the adrenal gland and the ventral prostate. The effects of hypophysectomy plus castration were similar to those of hypophysectomy alone. Administration of ACTH to hypophysectomized rats for 7 days did not reverse the effects of hypophysectomy on adrenal AR, nor did treatment with levothyroxine, dexamethasone, rat GH, or rat PRL. Treatment of hypophysectomized rats with 5α-dihydrotestosterone for 7 days caused a dramatic increase in the amount of detectable AR in both the ventral prostate and the adrenal gland, but had a trophic effect only in the ventral prostate. These findings suggest that the amount of immunoreactive AR detected in both the adrenal gland and the ventral prostate is enhanced by androgens: testicular androgens in the case of the ventral prostate and adrenal androgen in the case of the adrenal glands.
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