Immunohistochemical localization of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2 in the human fetal and adult male reproductive tracts

Alexander Kirschenbaum, Dara R. Liotta, Shen Yao, Xin Hua Liu, Adam P. Klausner, Pamela Unger, Ellen Shapiro, Irwin Leav, Alice C. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The first rate-limiting step in the conversion of arachidonic acid to PGs is catalyzed by cyclooxygenase (Cox). Two isoforms of Cox have been identified, Cox-1 (constitutively expressed) and Cox-2 (inducible form), which are the products of two different genes. In this study we describe the immunohistochemical localization of Cox-1 and -2 in the human male fetal and adult reproductive tracts. There was no Cox-1 expression in fetal samples (prostate, seminal vesicles, or ejaculatory ducts), and only minimal expression in adult tissues. There was no expression of Cox-2 in the fetal prostate. In a prepubertal prostate there was some Cox-2 expression that localized exclusively to the smooth muscle cells of the transition zone. In adult hyperplastic prostates, Cox-2 was strongly expressed in smooth muscle cells, with no expression in the luminal epithelial cells. Cox-2 was strongly expressed in epithelial cells of both fetal and adult seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts. The Cox-2 staining intensity in the fetal ejaculatory ducts during various times of gestation correlated with previously reported testosterone production rates by the fetal testis. These data indicate that Cox-2 is the predominant isoform expressed in the fetal male reproductive tract, and its expression may be regulated by androgens. The distinct cell type-specific expression patterns of Cox-2 in the prostate (smooth muscle) vs. the seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts (epithelium) may reflect the different roles of PGs in these tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3436-3441
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


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