Objective. (1) To determine the ability of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to reverse antiandrogen-induced cryptorchidism and epididymal abnormalities; (2) to evaluate whether alterations in maternal EGF would result in abnormal testicular descent or mal development of the epididymis. Methods. Experiment 1: Timed pregnant ICR mice were treated with either flutamide, flutamide plus EGF, or vehicle alone on gestational days 1 1 through birth. Experiment 2: Maternal EGF was abolished by removing the submandibular glands. Following timed mating, dams were treated with either flutamide, anti-EGF, DHT or vehicle alone on gestational days 11 through birth. Results. Experiment 1 : Treatment with flutamide resulted in a 36 percent (26/72) incidence of undescended testes (UDT), and a 43 percent (31/72) incidence of abnormal epididymides. Rats treated simultaneously with flutamide plus EGF had a reduced incidence of UDT (14%, 6/42) and epididymal anomalies (19%, 8/42); p < 0.01. Experiment 2: The absence of maternal EGF resulted in a significant incidence of cryptorchidism in 11/50 (22%) testes, and epididymal anomalies in 19/50 (38%); p < 0.01. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that EGF stabilizes the wolffian duct system and partially mediates testicular descent.
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