Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor Action in Reproductive Tissues

Emina Ipsa, Vinicius F. Cruzat, Jackob N. Kagize, John L. Yovich, Kevin N. Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The role of growth hormone (GH) in human fertility is widely debated with some studies demonstrating improvements in oocyte yield, enhanced embryo quality, and in some cases increased live births with concomitant decreases in miscarriage rates. However, the basic biological mechanisms leading to these clinical differences are not well-understood. GH and the closely-related insulin-like growth factor (IGF) promote body growth and development via action on key metabolic organs including the liver, skeletal muscle, and bone. In addition, their expression and that of their complementary receptors have also been detected in various reproductive tissues including the oocyte, granulosa, and testicular cells. Therefore, the GH/IGF axis may directly regulate female and male gamete development, their quality, and ultimately competence for implantation. The ability of GH and IGF to modulate key signal transduction pathways such as the MAP kinase/ERK, Jak/STAT, and the PI3K/Akt pathway along with the subsequent effects on cell division and steroidogenesis indicates that these growth factors are centrally located to alter cell fate during proliferation and survival. In this review, we will explore the function of GH and IGF in regulating normal ovarian and testicular physiology, while also investigating the effects on cell signal transduction pathways with subsequent changes in cell proliferation and steroidogenesis. The aim is to clarify the role of GH in human fertility from a molecular and biochemical point of view.

Original languageEnglish
Article number777
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2019


  • estrogen
  • granulosa cells
  • Leydig cells
  • Sertoli cells
  • signaling
  • testosterone
  • theca cells


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