Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab


  • Elspeth GoldEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_7125-3



Dimeric protein complex that enhances biosynthesis of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and secretion from the pituitary.


Activins are members of the TGF-β superfamily of proteins, and in addition to stimulating FSH release from the pituitary they are involved in regulation of a diverse range of physiological processes including embryonic development, reproduction, and fertility, and are implicated in the development and progression of cancers, especially of the testis, ovary, and adrenal gland.

There are five known β-subunits (designated β A through β E) that can form homodimers or heterodimers, for example activin A (= β Aβ A), activin B (=β Bβ B), activin C (=β Cβ C), activin AB (=β Aβ B), and activin AC (=β Aβ C, Fig. 1). Two of these subunits (β C and β E) were discovered only in the last decade and we know little about them, mainly...


Male Infertility Adrenal Tumor Prostate Disease Wasting Syndrome Overt Effect 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnatomyOtago School of Medical SciencesDunedinNew zealand