Gap junctional communication in the male reproductive system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Dec 20;1719(1-2):102-16. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2005.09.017. Epub 2005 Oct 17.


Male fertility is a highly controlled process that allows proliferation, meiosis and differentiation of male germ cells in the testis, final maturation in the epididymis and also requires functional male accessory glands: seminal vesicles, prostate and corpus cavernosum. In addition to classical endocrine and paracrine controls, mainly by gonadotropins LH and FSH and steroids, there is now strong evidence that all these processes are dependent upon the presence of homocellular or heterocellular junctions, including gap junctions and their specific connexins (Cxs), between the different cell types that structure the male reproductive tract. The present review is focused on the identification of Cxs, their distribution in the testis and in different structures of the male genital tract (epididymis, seminal vesicle, prostate, corpus cavernosum), their crucial role in the control of spermatogenesis and their implication in the function of the male accessory glands, including functional smooth muscle tone. Their potential dysfunctions in some testis (spermatogenic arrest, seminoma) and prostate (benign hyperplasia, adenocarcinoma) diseases and in the physiopathology of the human erectile function are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Fertility
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Germ Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostatic Diseases / metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Testis / metabolism*


  • Connexins