Serum inhibin B as a marker of spermatogenesis

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Sep;83(9):3110-4. doi: 10.1210/jcem.83.9.5121.


Inhibin B is produced by Sertoli cells, provides negative feedback on FSH secretion, and may prove to be an important marker for the functioning of seminiferous tubules. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the spermatogenic function of the testis of subfertile men and the plasma concentrations of inhibin B and FSH. These parameters were estimated in a group of 218 subfertile men. Serum inhibin B levels were closely correlated with the serum FSH levels (r = -0.78, P < 0.001), confirming the role of inhibin B as feedback signal for FSH production. The spermatogenic function of the testis was evaluated by determining testicular volume and total sperm count. Inhibin B levels were significantly correlated with the total sperm count and testicular volume (r = 0.54 and r = 0.63, respectively; P < 0.001). Testicular biopsies were obtained in 22 of these men. Inhibin B was significantly correlated with the biopsy score (r = 0.76, P < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed a diagnostic accuracy of 95% for differentiating competent from impaired spermatogenesis for inhibin B, whereas for FSH, a value of 80% was found. We conclude that inhibin B is the best available endocrine marker of spermatogenesis in subfertile men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Biopsy
  • Feedback
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / blood*
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Inhibins / biosynthesis
  • Inhibins / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism
  • Sperm Count
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Testis / pathology


  • Biomarkers
  • Inhibins
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone