Functional Communication between the Sertoli and Leydig Cells
All organs within the body are composed of cells of several different types which together perform the various functions of that organ. It is obvious that if the organ is to function normally, then the activities of the different cell types must be co-ordinated and the most logical way in which this could be achieved is by direct communication between the various cell types. In this context, the idea that the Sertoli cells should communicate with the Leydig cells within the testis is therefore far from unique, and yet this pathway has been all but ignored by the majority of workers engaged on research into testicular function. This neglect is all the more remarkable when it is considered that fertility is critically dependent on the link between Sertoli and Leydig cells, in that spermatogenesis is regulated by the Sertoli cell only under the driving influence of testosterone from the Leydig cells (Hansson et al., 1978; Ritzen et al., 1981). Because of this dependence it seems essential that the Sertoli cells should have some means of communicating with the Leydig cells to ensure the optimum supply of testos- terone for maintenance of spermatogenesis. This paper assesses the possible factors that might be involved in this communication and gives particular attention to the possibil- ity that the Sertoli cells may locally regulate testosterone production by the Leydig cells via secretion of a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)-like peptide.
KeywordsLuteinizing Hormone Sertoli Cell Leydig Cell Interstitial Fluid Seminiferous Tubule
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