, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 61-65

Localization of steroid hormone receptors in the apocrine sweat glands of the human axilla

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Abstract

The apocrine axillary glands, regarded as pheromone-producing scent glands, do not begin to function until puberty. Accordingly, sex hormones should have an impact on their activity, and the present study was designed to investigate the localization of androgen receptor (AR) and estrogen receptors (ERα and ERβ) in those glands. Strong nuclear immunoreactivity for AR and ERβ was found in the secretory epithelium. In AR especially, staining intensity was correlated with the height of the epithelium with more intense immunoreactivity in tall segments. Since the lower epithelium has been considered inactive or resting, our results suggest a correlation between steroid-receptor expression and secretory activity. Androgens are known to upregulate the cholesterol biosynthesis, and cholesterol may be used as precursor for pheromones. Accordingly, the results of this study establish a possible link between steroid hormone action and induction of pheromone production in the apocrine axillary glands.