Vitamin D is a key factor for calcium and bone homeostasis, but signalling through the vitamin D receptor (VDR) seems also to be important for testicular function. To test the functional role of vitamin D signalling we examined the male reproductive system of the Leuven Vdr-ablated (Vdr(-/-)) mice, previously established as a model for hereditary vitamin D-resistant rickets. We investigated reproductive hormones, changes in gene expression and histological phenotype of eleven Vdr(-/-), eight Vdr(+/-) and nine Vdr(+/+) mice. Testicular and epididymal histology were grossly normal in Vdr(-/-) mice. Accordingly, no differences were found in serum concentrations of testosterone, estradiol, LH, and FSH or testicular expression of Cyp19a1, Ersα, Cyp17a1, Star, Insl3, Inhbb, and Amh. However, a significantly lower ERβ expression was found in testis of Vdr(+/-) and Vdr(-/-) mice, conversely epididymal expressions of ERα and the estrogen-target gene Aqp9 were higher. In conclusion, vitamin D seems dispensable for murine spermatogenesis and sex hormone production, but aberrant estrogen-signalling may elicit some of the VDR-mediated effects on male reproduction.
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 2013, Vol 377, Issue 1-2, p. 93-102