Estrogens control many aspects of pituitary gland biology, including regulation of lactotroph homeostasis and synthesis and secretion of prolactin. In rat models, these actions are strain specific and heritable, and multiple quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been mapped that impact the responsiveness of the lactotroph to estrogens. One such QTL, Ept7, was mapped to RNO7 in female progeny generated in an intercross between BN rats, in which the lactotroph population is insensitive to estrogens, and ACI rats, which develop lactotroph hyperplasia/adenoma and associated hyperprolactinemia in response to estrogen treatment. The primary objective of this study was to confirm the existence of Ept7 and to quantify the impact of this QTL on responsiveness of the pituitary gland of female and male rats to 17β-estradiol (E2) and diethylstilbestrol (DES), respectively. Secondary objectives were to determine if Ept7 influences the responsiveness of the male reproductive tract to DES and to identify other discernible phenotypes influenced by Ept7. To achieve these objectives, a congenic rat strain that harbors BN alleles across the Ept7 interval on the genetic background of the ACI strain was generated and characterized to define the effect of administered estrogens on the anterior pituitary gland and male reproductive tissues. Data presented herein indicate Ept7 exerts a marked effect on development of lactotroph hyperplasia in response to estrogen treatment, but does not affect atrophy of the male reproductive tissues in response to hormone treatment. Ept7 was also observed to exert gender specific effects on body weight in young adult rats.
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