In this note, we are going to discuss the endocrine functions of the reproductive glands – the testes and ovaries.
The general anatomy of these organs is covered in the corresponding videos in the section “Urinary and Reproductive Systems”. Here, we will focus only on their endocrine function.
The testes consist of two functional units.
The exocrine component, responsive to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), is responsible for the production of reproductive gametes – spermatozoa. The endocrine part is represented by the so-called Leydig cells. These cells are located between the seminiferous tubules and secrete testosterone. This process is regulated by the luteinizing hormone (LH) secreted by the anterior pituitary.
This hormone is responsible for the growth and development of the male reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics, regulates the activity of accessory sexual glands and sexual behavior. It also stimulates muscle mass growth.
The ovaries are organs of the female reproductive system. The ovarian follicles serve as both reproductive and endocrine structures.
The reproductive component is responsible for the growth and development of female gametes – oocytes. The endocrine portion, consisting of theca cells and granulosa cells, is responsible for producing estrogens and progesterone. The production of these hormones is regulated by the gonadotropic hormones of the pituitary gland.
Estrogens stimulate the development of female sexual organs and secondary sexual characteristics, promote the development of ovarian follicles, and control ovulation.
Progesterone impacts fertilization, the growth and development of the fetus, inhibits the development of new follicles, and is considered as a pregnancy hormone.
Reproductive glands: testes and ovaries