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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Jul 10;306(1-2):2-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.11.005. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Role of androgen and gonadotrophins in the development and function of the Sertoli cells and Leydig cells: data from mutant and genetically modified mice.

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  • 1Institute of Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Glasgow, UK.


Development and maintenance of the male phenotype and establishment of fertility are all dependent upon the activity of the Sertoli cells and Leydig cells of the testis. This review examines the regulation and function of these cell during fetal and post-natal development. Fetal Leydig cells are sensitive to both luteinising hormone (LH) and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) but Leydig cell function appears normal in fetal mice lacking both hormones or their receptors. Post-natally, the Sertoli cells and Leydig cells are reliant upon the pituitary gonadotrophins. Leydig cells are critically dependent on LH but follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), presumably acting through the Sertoli cell, can also affect Leydig cell function. Testosterone secreted by the Leydig cells acts with FSH to stimulate Sertoli cell activity and spermatogenesis. Study of animals lacking FSH-receptors and androgen-receptors shows that both hormones can act to maintain the meiotic germ cell population but that androgens are critical for completion of meiosis.

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