Oestrogen receptors were measured in the cytosolic and purified nuclear fractions of rat liver. Both cytosolic and nuclear receptors bind oestrogen with high affinity (Kd = 1.47 and 2.28 nM respectively) and specificity similar to that of receptors in order oestrogen-target tissues such as the uterus. During the 4-day oestrous cycle the receptor content and distribution between cytosol and nucleus did not vary; in particular, the content of nuclear receptor did not appear to fluctuate in concert with known cyclic changes in the concentration of plasma oestrogen. Injection of 50 micrograms of oestradiol-17 beta or 10 micrograms of ethynyloestradiol resulted in a 4–6-fold increase in the nuclear receptor content, with a concomitant decrease in the unoccupied-receptor content of cytosol 1 h after injection. The nuclear receptors present after injection bind oestrogens with similar affinity (Kd = 2.78 nM) and specificity to receptors present in uninjected animals. The administration of lower doses of either oestrogen was less effective in producing increases in nuclear receptor content. Hence there is apparently substantial translocation of receptor to the nucleus in response to hyperphysiological doses of oestrogen, but not to the physiological changes in plasma oestrogen concentrations during the oestrous cycle. The response to exogenous oestrogens is discussed in relation to the clinical use of synthetic oestrogens and progestogens.

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