Clinical Applications of Gonadotropins in the Male

The pituitary gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) play a pivotal role in reproduction. The synthesis and secretion of gonadotropins are regulated by complex interactions among several endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine factors of diverse chemical structure. In men, LH regulates the synthesis of androgens by the Leydig cells, whereas FSH promotes Sertoli cell function and thereby influences spermatogenesis. Gonadotropins are complex molecules composed of two subunits, the α- and β-subunit, that are noncovalently associated. Gonadotropins are decorated with glycans that regulate several functions of the protein including folding, heterodimerization, stability, transport, conformational maturation, efficiency of heterodimer secretion, metabolic fate, interaction with their cognate receptor, and selective activation of signaling pathways. A number of congenital and acquired abnormalities lead to gonadotropin deficiency and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a condition amenable to treatment with exogenous gonadotropins. Several natural and recombinant preparations of gonadotropins are currently available for therapeutic purposes. The difference between natural and the currently available recombinant preparations (which are massively produced in Chinese hamster ovary cells for commercial purposes) mainly lies in the abundance of some of the carbohydrates that conform the complex glycans attached to the protein core. Whereas administration of exogenous gonadotropins in patients with isolated congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is a well recognized therapeutic approach, their role in treating men with normogonadotropic idiopathic infertility is still controversial. This chapter concentrates on the main structural and functional features of the gonadotropin hormones and how basic concepts have been translated into the clinical arena to guide therapy for gonadotropin deficit in males.

Progress in molecular biology and translational science. 2016 Sep 13 [Epub]

A Ulloa-Aguirre, S Lira-Albarrán

Research Support Network, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)-National Institutes of Health, Mexico City, Mexico. Electronic address: ., Department of Reproductive Biology, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.