Role of retinoid signaling in the regulation of spermatogenesis

Cytogenet Genome Res. 2004;105(2-4):189-202. doi: 10.1159/000078189.


While the need for vitamin A for the normal progression of male germ cell differentiation has been known for many years, the molecular mechanisms underlying this requirement are poorly understood. This review will explore the aspects of the effects on spermatogenesis of dietary deprivation of vitamin A, in particular as to how they compare to the male sterility that results from the genetic ablation of function of the retinoid receptor RARalpha. The effects of other genes involved with retinoid synthesis, transport, and degradation are also considered. The possible cellular mechanisms that may be affected by the lack of retinoid signaling are discussed, in particular, cell cycle regulation and cell-cell interaction, both of which are critical for normal spermatogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Infertility, Male / genetics
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / genetics
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / physiology
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Retinoids / physiology*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Testis / physiology
  • Vitamin A / physiology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / metabolism


  • RARA protein, human
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Retinoids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Vitamin A