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Spermatogenesis originates from self-renewal of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Previous studies have reported conflicting roles of gonadotropic pituitary hormones in SSC self-renewal. Here, we explored the role of hormonal regulation of SSCs using Fshb and Lhcgr knockout (KO) mice. Although follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is thought to promote self-renewal by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), no abnormalities were found in SSCs and their microenvironment. In contrast, SSCs were enriched in Lhcgr-deficient mice. Moreover, wild-type SSCs transplanted into Lhcgr-deficient mice showed enhanced self-renewal. Microarray analysis revealed that Lhcgr-deficient testes have enhanced WNT5A expression in Sertoli cells, which showed an immature phenotype. Since WNT5A was upregulated by anti-androgen treatment, testosterone produced by luteinizing hormone (LH) is required for Sertoli cell maturation. WNT5A promoted SSC activity both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, FSH is not responsible for GDNF regulation, while LH negatively regulates SSC self-renewal by suppressing WNT5A via testosterone.


Originally published in Stem Cell Reports.



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