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Reprod Sci. 2013 Mar;20(3):211-33. doi: 10.1177/1933719112461184. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

The molecular basis of impaired follicle-stimulating hormone action: evidence from human mutations and mouse models.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility, & Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Health Sciences University Augusta, GA 30912, USA.


The pituitary gonadotropin follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) interacts with its membrane-bound receptor to produce biologic effects. Traditional functions of FSH include follicular development and estradiol production in females, and the regulation of Sertoli cell action and spermatogenesis in males. Knockout mice for both the ligand (Fshb) and the receptor (Fshr) serve as models for FSH deficiency, while Fshb and Fshr transgenic mice manifest FSH excess. In addition, inactivating mutations of both human orthologs (FSHB and FSHR) have been characterized in a small number of patients, with phenotypic effects of the ligand disruption being more profound than those of its receptor. Activating human FSHR mutants have also been described in both sexes, leading to a phenotype of normal testis function (male) or spontaneous ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (females). As determined from human and mouse models, FSH is essential for normal puberty and fertility in females, particularly for ovarian follicular development beyond the antral stage. In males, FSH is necessary for normal spermatogenesis, but there are differences in human and mouse models. The FSHB mutations in humans result in azoospermia; while FSHR mutations in humans and knockouts of both the ligand and the receptor in mice affect testicular function but do not result in absolute infertility. Available evidence also indicates that FSH may also be necessary for normal androgen synthesis in males and females.

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