INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS: Urinary incontinence is prevalent in postmenopausal women and spayed dogs and is associated with decreased estrogen plasma concentrations. The objective of the study was to investigate the expression of estrogen receptors (ER) in the urethra of sexually intact, ovariectomized, and estrogen-substituted ovariectomized ewes.
METHODS: Paraffin cross-sections from each urethral quarter were immunohistochemically analyzed. The reactivity of ER was semiquantitatively assessed employing an immunoreactive score (IRS).
RESULTS: In contrast to ERβ, ERα was identified in all urethral compartments; the highest IRS was detected in the epithelium of the distal urethra. The immunoreactivity and distribution of ERα did not differ among groups. Highly significant differences in ERα concentrations were observed between consecutive urethral quarters in each group.
CONCLUSIONS: Neither ovariectomy nor ovariectomy and estrogen substitution seem to have a significant effect on overall urethral ERα concentration. The results demonstrate that the precise location of the investigated urethral part is crucial to the reliable evaluation or possible comparison of ERα concentrations.