Neuroendocrine regulation of Leydig cell development

P.J. O'Shaughnessy, P.J. Baker, H. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


During development in the mouse, two populations of Leydig cells arise sequentially. The fetal Leydig cell population arises shortly after testicular differentiation and functions primarily to produce androgens that are essential for masculinization of the fetus. The origin of the fetal Leydig stem cells remains uncertain, but it has been suggested that adrenocortical cells and fetal Leydig cells may share a common origin in an adrenogenital primordium. The fetal Leydig cells require an intact pituitary for normal development and are sensitive to both luteinizing hormone (LH) and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). Loss of either one of these hormones does not, however, affect fetal androgen production, suggesting that both LH and ACTH may act to maintain fetal Leydig cell function in vivo in a redundant fashion. The adult Leydig cell population starts to develop soon after birth in the mouse. Initial differentiation does not appear to require gonadotropin input, but subsequent development and function are completely dependent upon LH. The adult Leydig cells do not require circulating follicle-stimulating hormone, provided that LH is present, but androgen stimulation, through the androgen receptor, is required for normal Leydig cell development in the mouse. It is likely that the effects of androgen are mediated directly in the Leydig cells or indirectly through the peritubular cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Leydig cell
  • fetal
  • adult
  • development
  • testis
  • luteinizing hormone
  • adrenocorticotrophic hormone
  • gonadotropin
  • androgen


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