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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Apr;109(3-5):323-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2008.03.004. Epub 2008 Mar 6.

Hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis and spermiogenesis.

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Department of Urology, Ioannina University School of Medicine, Panepistimioupolis, Metavatiko Building, Ioannina 45110, Greece.


Normal testicular function is dependent upon hormones acting through endocrine and paracrine pathways both in vivo and in vitro. Sertoli cells provide factors necessary for the successful progression of spermatogonia into spermatozoa. Sertoli cells have receptors for follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone which are the main hormonal regulators of spermatogenesis. Hormones such as testosterone, FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) are known to influence the germ cell fate. Their removal induces germ cell apoptosis. Proteins of the Bcl-2 family provide one signaling pathway which appears to be essential for male germ cell homeostasis. In addition to paracrine signals, germ cells also depend upon signals derived from Sertoli by direct membrane contact. Somatostatin is a regulatory peptide playing a role in the regulation of the proliferation of the male gametes. Activin A, follistatin and FSH play a role in germ cell maturation during the period when gonocytes resume mitosis to form the spermatogonial stem cells and differentiating germ cell populations. In vitro cultures systems have provided evidence that spermatogonia in advance stage of differentiation have specific regulatory mechanisms that control their fate. This review article provides an overview of the literature concerning the hormonal pathways regulating spermatogenesis.

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