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Cell Cycle. 2007 Sep 15;6(18):2258-62. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

Development of fetal testicular cells in androgen receptor deficient mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Differentiation and Radiobiology of the Gonads, Universit√© Paris 7-Denis Diderot, CEA, DSV/iRCM/SCSR/LDRG and INSERM, Fontenay aux Roses, France.


During mammalian development, androgens produced by the fetal testis are the most important hormones controlling the masculinization of the reproductive tract and the genitalia. New findings show that the male germ line is the most sensitive to anti-androgenic endocrine disruptors during the embryonic period. In a recent study, we reported that endogenous androgens physiologically control germ cell growth in the male mouse fetus during early fetal life. In the present study, we extended this result by showing the presence of a functional androgen receptor in the gonocytes in the latter part of the fetal life. We also studied the effect of androgens on the development of the somatic testicular cells using the Tfm mice which carry a naturally inactivating mutation of the androgen receptor. Fetal Leydig cells are largely independent of endogenous androgens during fetal development whereas fetal Sertoli cell number is decreased following a default of peritubular myoid cells differenciation. They also point to the gonocyte as a special target for androgens during the embryonic period and indicate a novel mechanism of androgen action on gonocytes. Elucidation of this new pathway in the fetal testis will clarify not only fetal testis physiology but also the effects of environmental anti-androgens that act during fetal life and open new perspectives for future investigations into the sensitivity of fetal germ cell to androgens.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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