The Physiology of the Testis

  • Ilacqua A
  • Francomano D
  • Aversa A
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The testis is the most important organ for reproductive and sexual function. Malefetal sexual differentiation of the genitalia is driven by Leydig cell-secretedandrogens and Sertoli cell (SC)-secreted anti-Müllerian hormone. The hormoneinsulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) is produced by testicular Leydig cells (LCs)depending on the state of LC differentiation and is stimulated by the long-termtrophic effects of luteinizing hormone (see testicular descent). INSL3 is, alongwith the other major Leydig cell hormone testosterone (Te), essential for testiculardescent, which in humans should be completed before birth. The absence ofandrogen receptor expression in SCs underlies a physiological stage of androgeninsensitivity within the male gonad in the fetal and early postnatal periods. Fromfetal life to adulthood, the testis evolves through maturational phases showingspecific morphologic and functional features in its different compartments. Theseminiferous cords contain Sertoli and germ cells, surrounded by peritubularcells, and the interstitial tissue contains LCs and connective tissue. Duringinfancy and childhood, LCs regress and Te secretion declines dramatically. SCsremain immature and spermatogenesis is arrested at the premeiotic stage. Atpuberty, LCs differentiate again, and Te concentration increases and provokesSC maturation and germ cells undergo meiosis, the hallmark of adult spermato-genesis driving to sperm production (see Interstitial compartment). During adult-hood androgen receptors became expressed and spermatogenesis occurs, while inaging, despite that sperm cell production remains partially affected, the secretionrate of Te declines depending on the presence of comorbidities and drugsaffecting its production by LC (see aging)




Ilacqua, A., Francomano, D., & Aversa, A. (2018). The Physiology of the Testis (pp. 455–491).

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