Regulation of activin and inhibin in the adult testis and the evidence for functional roles in spermatogenesis and immunoregulation

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Aug 15;359(1-2):30-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.09.031. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Activin A provides a unique link between reproduction and immunity, which is especially significant in the adult testis. This cytokine, together with inhibin B and follistatin acting as regulators of activin A activity, is fundamentally involved in the regulation of spermatogenesis and testicular steroidogenesis. However, activin A also has a much broader role in control of inflammation, fibrosis and immunity. In the Sertoli cell, activin A is regulated by signalling pathways that normally regulate stress and inflammation, signalling pathways that intersect with the classical hormonal regulatory pathways mediated by FSH. Modulation of activin A production and activity during spermatogenesis is implicated in the fine control of the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium. The immunoregulatory properties of activin A also suggest that it may be involved in maintaining testicular immune privilege. Consequently, elevated activin A production within the testis during inflammation and infection may contribute to spermatogenic failure, fibrosis and testicular damage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activins / metabolism*
  • Activins / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inhibins / metabolism*
  • Inhibins / physiology
  • Male
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Testis / immunology
  • Testis / metabolism*
  • Testis / pathology


  • Activins
  • Inhibins