Activin as a cell differentiation factor

Prog Growth Factor Res. 1990;2(2):113-24. doi: 10.1016/0955-2235(90)90027-h.


Activin, originally discovered as a polypeptide hormone that is capable of stimulating follicle-stimulating hormone secretion from pituitary cells in vitro, has recently been found to have a much wider range of biological activities. There are a number of reports of activin action as a cell differentiation factor on various types of cells rather than as a modulator of hormone secretion, as predicted initially, based on its structural similarity to transforming growth factor-beta. Studies of the distribution of activin and its receptor in a variety of tissues and its wide-ranging actions clearly illustrates its multifunctional properties. In particular, activin has been shown to be a potential regulator of early development of Xenopus laevis. Observation of activin effect in embryogenesis is of general importance to our understanding of the role of the family of growth factors in developmental processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors
  • Activins
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Embryonic Induction / drug effects
  • Embryonic Induction / physiology
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology
  • Female
  • Follistatin
  • Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Growth Substances / genetics
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibins / genetics
  • Inhibins / pharmacology
  • Inhibins / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology


  • Follistatin
  • Glycoproteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Activins
  • Inhibins
  • Activin Receptors