Oestrogens are secreted in large amounts by boar testes and are known to have a synergistic effect with testosterone on the production of large volumes of seminal plasma. Thus, oestrogens play a role in regulating the large accessory sex glands in the boar. Since testosterone metabolites (e.g. 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone) account for much of its action in target tissues we have looked at the metabolism of oestrogens in the accessory sex glands of the male pig. Tissues from seminal vesicles and bulbourethral glands of 6-week-old castrate and intact males, and 12-week-old castrate animals, were incubated with (3)H-labelled oestrone and oestradiol-17beta. Aliquots of spent culture medium and of methanolic tissue extracts were taken to measure radioactivity, prior to separation of unconjugated and conjugated steroids on Waters C(18) Sep-Pak cartridges. About one-third of the radioactivity appeared as conjugates in the media from both glands with each oestrogen. Subsequently, sulphoconjugated steroids and glucuronidates were recovered in series from C(18) cartridges after solvolysis and enzyme hydrolysis respectively. Furthermore, about one-third of the conjugated fraction in each case remained unhydrolysed after these treatments. In conclusion, it is clear that a study of the actions of oestrogens on these glands must consider the dynamics of metabolism of the oestrogens presented to them by the testes and would include conjugation of steroids by the glands themselves.
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