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.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel