Relaxin and Related Peptides in Male Reproduction

  • Alexander I. Agoulnik
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 612)


The relaxin hormone is renowned for its function in pregnancy, parturition and other aspects of female reproduction. At the same time, the role of relaxin in male reproduction is still debated. Relaxin is prominently expressed in prostate and its receptors are found in several male reproductive organs; however, the data indicative of its contribution to differentiation and functioning of prostate or testis are contradictory. Prostate relaxin is a main source of this peptide in the seminal plasma. The relaxin effects on sperm motility and fertilization have been reported. The expression of other relaxin related peptides, such as INSL5 and INSL6 was described in testis; yet, currently there are no experimental data to pinpoint their biological functions. The other member of relaxin peptide family, insulin-like 3 peptide (INSL3), is a major player in male development. The INSL3 peptide is expressed in testicular fetal and adult Leydig cells and is directly responsible for the process of abdominal testicular descent (migration of the testes towards the scrotum during male development). Genetic targeting of the Insl3 gene or INSL3 GPCR receptor Lgr8/Rxfp2 causes high intra-abdominal cryptorchidism due to a differentiation failure of testicular ligaments, the gubernacula. Several mutations of these two genes rendering nonfunctional proteins have been described in human patients with testicular maldescent. Thus, in this chapter we review the data related to the expression and function of relaxin and related peptides in male reproduction.


Leydig Cell Seminal Plasma Male Reproduction Testicular Descent Lgr8 Expression 
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© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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