Dynamic changes of reproductive hormones in male minipuberty: Temporal dissociation of Leydig- and Sertoli-cell activity

Alexander Siegfried Busch*, Marie Lindhardt Ljubicic, Emmie N Upners, Margit Bistrup Fischer, Lars Lau Raket, Hanne Frederiksen, Jakob Albrethsen, Trine Holm Johannsen, Casper P Hagen, Anders Juul

*Corresponding author for this work


CONTEXT: The male hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis is transiently active during the first months of life with surging serum concentrations of reproductive hormones. This period, termed minipuberty, appears to be essential for priming testicular function. Despite the central role for male reproductive function, longitudinal data on HPG axis activation in infancy is sparse.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the dynamics of HPG hormone activity in healthy male infants, to assess the association of HPG axis activity and testicular volume, and to establish reference curves for serum levels of reproductive hormones.

DESIGN: Prospective, longitudinal birth cohort (the COPENHAGEN Minipuberty Study, 2016-2018, 1-year follow-up).

SETTING: Population-based.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Healthy, male, term, singleton newborns were followed from birth on with repeated clinical examinations including blood sampling during a 1-year follow-up. A total of 128 boys contributed to this study, while 119 participated in the postnatal follow-up.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Serum reproductive hormone concentrations and testicular volume.

RESULTS: Reproductive hormone concentrations showed marked dynamics during the first 6 months of age. Gonadotropins, total testosterone, and insulin-like factor 3 peaked at around 1 month of age. Inhibin B, anti-Müllerian hormone, and testicular volume peaked at around 4 to 5 months. Correlations largely recapitulated typical HPG axis pathways but also differed significantly from adult men.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate a temporal dissociation of Leydig and Sertoli cell activity during male minipuberty and provide reference curves for reproductive hormones.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1560-1568
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022


  • Adult
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Gonadotropins
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sertoli Cells
  • Testis
  • Testosterone


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