Canonical estrogen receptors (ER α/β) have a genomic mechanism of action, functioning as nuclear transcription factors for estrogen-dependent genes. Estrogen receptors are well established within the male reproductive tract with estrogen playing an essential role for male fertility.
The recent characterization of novel G-protein coupled estrogen receptor GPR30 (alternatively known as GPER1), depending on non-genomic intracellular signaling pathways to transduce estrogenic signals, requires a re-examination of the roles of estrogen receptors in male reproduction. Further, the affinity of environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) for estrogen receptor subtypes may provide additional understanding of the reproductive effects of these chemicals on male fertility.
Here we review the structure and functions of each estrogen receptor within the context of male reproduction, with special consideration of the reproductive implications of xenoestrogen exposure.