Hormonal control of germ cell development and spermatogenesis

O'Shaughnessy, P. J. (2014) Hormonal control of germ cell development and spermatogenesis. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 29, pp. 55-65. (doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.02.010)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.02.010

Abstract

Spermatogenesis is completely dependent on the pituitary hormone follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and androgens locally produced in response to luteinising hormone (LH). This dual control has been known since the 1930s and 1940s but more recent work, particularly using transgenic mice, has allowed us to determine which parts of the spermatogenic pathway are regulated by each hormone. During the first spermatogenic cycle after puberty both FSH and androgen act to limit the massive wave of germ cell apoptosis which occurs at this time. The established role of FSH in all cycles is to increase spermatogonial and subsequent spermatocyte numbers with a likely effect also on spermiation. Mice lacking FSH or its receptor are fertile, albeit with reduced germ cell numbers, and so this hormone is not an essential regulator of spermatogenesis but acts to optimise germ cell production Androgens also appear to regulate spermatogonial proliferation but, crucially, they are also required to allow spermatocytes to complete meiosis and form spermatids. Animals lacking androgen receptors fail to generate post-meiotic germ cells, therefore, and are infertile. There is also strong evidence that androgens act to ensure appropriate spermiation of mature spermatids. Androgen regulation of spermatogenesis is dependent upon action on the Sertoli cell but recent studies have shown that androgenic stimulation of the peritubular myoid cells is also essential for normal germ cells development. While FSH or androgen alone will both stimulate germ cell development, together they act synergistically to maximise germ cell number. The other hormones/local factors which can regulate spermatogenesis include activins and estrogens although their role in normal physiological regulation of this process needs to be more clearly established. Regulation of spermatogenesis in primates appears to be similar to that in rodents although the role of FSH may be greater. While our knowledge of hormone function during spermatogenesis is now well developed we still lack understanding of the mechanisms by which these hormones act to regulate this process.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Shaughnessy, Professor Peter
Authors: O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1084-9521
ISSN (Online):1096-3634

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