Author(s): McLachlan RI, ODonnell L, Meachem SJ, Stanton PG, de Kretser DM,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract A detailed understanding of the hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis is required for the informed assessment and management of male fertility and, conversely, for the development of safe and reversible male hormonal contraception. An approach to the study of these issues is outlined based on the use of well-defined in vivo models of gonadotropin/androgen deprivation and replacement, the quantitative assessment of germ cell number using stereological techniques, and the directed study of specific steps in spermatogenesis shown to be hormone dependent. Drawing together data from rat, monkey, and human models, we identify differences between species and formulate an overview of the hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis. There is good evidence for both separate and synergistic roles for both testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in achieving quantitatively normal spermatogenesis. Based on relatively selective withdrawal and replacement studies, FSH has key roles in the progression of type A to B spermatogonia and, in synergy with testosterone, in regulating germ cell viability. Testosterone is an absolute requirement for spermatogenesis. In rats, it has been shown to promote the adhesion of round spermatids to Sertoli cells, without which they are sloughed from the epithelium and spermatid elongation fails. The release of mature elongated spermatids from the testis (spermiation) is also under FSH/testosterone control in rats. Data from monkeys and men treated with steroidal contraceptives indicate that impairment of spermiation is a key to achieving azoospermia. The contribution of 5alpha-reduced androgens in the testis to the regulation of spermatogenesis is also relevant, as 5alpha-reduced androgens are maintained during gonadotropin suppression and may act to maintain low levels of germ cell development. These concepts are also discussed in the context of male hormonal contraceptive development.
This article was published in Recent Prog Horm Res
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access