The Role of Retinoic Acid (RA) in Spermatogonial Differentiation

Biol Reprod. 2016 Jan;94(1):10. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.115.135145. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Retinoic acid (RA) directs the sequential, but distinct, programs of spermatogonial differentiation and meiotic differentiation that are both essential for the generation of functional spermatozoa. These processes are functionally and temporally decoupled, as they occur in distinct cell types that arise over a week apart, both in the neonatal and adult testis. However, our understanding is limited in terms of what cellular and molecular changes occur downstream of RA exposure that prepare differentiating spermatogonia for meiotic initiation. In this review, we describe the process of spermatogonial differentiation and summarize the current state of knowledge regarding RA signaling in spermatogonia.

Keywords: developmental biology; differentiation; gonocyte; prospermatogonia; retinoic acid; retinoids; spermatogenesis; spermatogonia; testis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Mice
  • Spermatogonia / physiology*
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / physiology
  • Tretinoin / physiology*


  • Tretinoin