Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 1255–1265 | Cite as

The role of cremaster muscle in testicular descent in humans and animal models

  • Gabrielle Lie
  • John M. Hutson
Review Article


Testicular descent is a complex developmental process involving anatomical and hormonal regulation. The gubernaculum undergoes a “swelling reaction” during the transabdominal phase and is mainly under the control of Insulin-Like Peptide 3 (INSL-3) and Mullerian Inhibitory Substance/Anti-Mullerian Hormone (MIS/AMH). The second phase of testicular descent is regulated by androgens and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release from the sensory nucleus of the genitofemoral nerve (GFN). In rodents, the active proliferation of the gubernacular tip and cremaster muscle, its rhythmic contraction, as well as the chemotactic gradient provided by the CGRP result in eventual migration of the testis into the scrotum. This review illustrates the structural aspects and hormonal control of cremaster muscle development to better understand the mechanism of testicular descent in normal rodents and humans, compared to diseased rodent models. The analysis showed the cremaster muscle is formed from mesenchymal differentiation of the gubernacular tip and is not a direct passive extension of internal oblique muscle. Cremaster muscle matures slower than other body muscles, and the persistence of immature myogenic proteins seen in cardiac muscle allows rhythmic contraction to guide the testis into the scrotum. Finally, remodelling of the cremaster muscle enables gubernacular eversion. Further understanding of the molecular regulators governing the structural and hormonal changes in the cremaster muscle may lead to new advances in the treatment of undescended testes.


Testicular descent Cremaster muscle 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Douglas Stephens Surgical Research UnitMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of UrologyRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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