Different roles of prepubertal and postpubertal germ cells and Sertoli cells in the regulation of serum inhibin B levels

202 Citationer (Scopus)


To elucidate the role of germ cells in the regulation of inhibin B secretion, serum inhibin B levels in prepubertal boys and adult men whom had a concurrent testicular biopsy showing either normal or impaired testicular function were compared. In addition, by immunohistochemistry the cellular localization of the two subunits of inhibin B (alpha and betaB) were examined in adult testicular tissue with normal spermatogenesis, spermatogenic arrest, or Sertoli cell only tubules (SCO) as well as in normal testicular tissue from an infant and a prepubertal boy. Adult men with testicular biopsy showing normal spermatogenesis (n=8) or spermatogenic arrest (n=5) had median inhibin B levels of 148 pg/mL (range, 37-463 pg/mL) and 68 pg/mL (range, 29-186 pg/mL), respectively, corresponding to normal or near-normal levels of our reference population (165 and 31-443 pg/mL; n=358). Men with SCO (n=9) had undetectable or barely detectable (n=1) serum levels of inhibin B. In contrast to adults, prepubertal boys with SCO (n=12) all had measurable serum inhibin B levels that corresponded to our previously determined normal range in healthy prepubertal boys (n=114). However, in postpubertal samples from the same SCO boys, inhibin B levels were undetectable as in the adult SCO men. Intense inhibin alpha-subunit immunostaining was evident in Sertoli cells in both prepubertal and adult testes. In the prepubertal testis, positive immunostaining for the betaB-subunit was observed in Sertoli cells. In the adult testis, intense immunostaining for the betaB-subunit was evident in germ cells from the pachytene spermatocyte to early spermatid stages and to a lesser degree in Leydig cells, but not in Sertoli cells or other stages of germ cells. Thus, surprisingly, in adult men the two subunits constituting inhibin B were expressed by different cell types. We speculate that during puberty Sertoli cell maturation induces a change in inhibin subunit expression. Thus, immature Sertoli cells express both alpha and betaB inhibin subunits, whereas fully differentiated Sertoli cells only express the alpha-subunit. The correlation in adult men between serum inhibin B levels and spermatogenesis may be due to the fact that inhibin B in adult men is possibly a joint product of Sertoli cells and germ cells, including the stages from pachytene spermatocytes to early spermatids.
TidsskriftJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)4451-8
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - dec. 1998


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