The Fate of the Male Germ Cell

Volume 424 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 51-58

Endocrine Control of Germ Cell Proliferation in the Primate Testis

What do We Really Know?
  • G. F. WeinbauerAffiliated withInstitute of Reproductive Medicine of the University
  • , E. NieschlagAffiliated withInstitute of Reproductive Medicine of the University

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The present chapter reviews current knowledge concerning hormonal regulation of gametogenesis in the primate testis. LH/testosterone and FSH are the prime regulators of primate spermatogenesis. Although either hormone is capable of stimulating all phases of the spermatogenic process including the formation of sperm, the combination of both hormones is necessary in most instances to achieve quantitatively normal germ cell numbers. Sertoli cell proliferation can also be induced by either hormone in juvenile monkeys. Evidence for differential effects of testosterone and FSH on gametogenesis, however, is lacking and a synergistic effect is observed when they are combined. Receptors for androgens and FSH occur exclusively on testicular somatic cells and, hence, the trophic effects of these hormones on germ cell numbers are indirect ones. Interestingly, both hormones seem to have a common target, the spermatogonial population but it is unknown how such an indirect albeit highly specific effect is mediated. Whether the trophic hormone action influences germ cell numbers via increased proliferation or decreased cell death or both remains to be seen. There is evidence to suggest that the local androgen requirements for primate spermatogenesis might be comparatively high.