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Male reproductive physiology

Alvin M Matsumoto, MD
Section Editor
Peter J Snyder, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


This topic will review the normal hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, androgen physiology, sperm formation, and sexual maturation at puberty and its subsequent maintenance. The roles of testosterone, which directly stimulates Wolffian duct differentiation, and dihydrotestosterone, which causes development of the external genitalia in male sexual differentiation, are discussed separately. (See "Normal sexual development".)


The testes contain two anatomical units:

A network of seminiferous tubules in which inhibin B and anti-Müllerian hormone are synthesized by Sertoli cells and sperm are produced.

An interstitium containing Leydig cells that produce androgens and peritubular myoid cells.

The spermatogenic tubules are composed of germ cells and Sertoli cells. Tight junctions between the Sertoli cells separate the tissue into two functional compartments (basal and adluminal), which are distinct from the anatomical units and which have limited permeability for diffusion of macromolecules between them (figure 1) [1]. The basal compartment consists of the outer layers of the seminiferous tubules containing the spermatogonia. The adluminal compartment contains the inner portion of the seminiferous tubules, including primary spermatocytes and more advanced stages of spermatogenesis.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 07, 2017.
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