Sertoli Cells pp 129-155 | Cite as

Molecular Mechanisms and Signaling Pathways Involved in the Nutritional Support of Spermatogenesis by Sertoli Cells

  • Luís Crisóstomo
  • Marco G. Alves
  • Agostina Gorga
  • Mário Sousa
  • María F. Riera
  • María N. Galardo
  • Silvina B. MeroniEmail author
  • Pedro F. Oliveira
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1748)


Sertoli cells play a central role in spermatogenesis. They maintain the blood-testis barrier, an essential feature of seminiferous tubules which creates the proper environment for the occurrence of the spermatogenesis. However, this confinement renders germ cells almost exclusively dependent on Sertoli cells’ nursing function and support. Throughout spermatogenesis, differentiating sperm cells become more specialized, and their biochemical machinery is insufficient to meet their metabolic demands. Although the needs are not the same at all differentiation stages, Sertoli cells are able to satisfy their needs. In order to maintain the seminiferous tubule energetic homeostasis, Sertoli cells react in response to several metabolic stimuli, through signaling cascades. The AMP-activated kinase, sensitive to the global energetic status; the hypoxia-inducible factors, sensitive to oxygen concentration; and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, sensitive to fatty acid availability, are pathways already described in Sertoli cells. These cells’ metabolism also reflects the whole-body metabolic dynamics. Metabolic diseases, including obesity and type II diabetes mellitus, induce changes that, both directly and indirectly, affect Sertoli cell function and, ultimately, (dys)function in male reproductive health. Insulin resistance, increased estrogen synthesis, vascular disease, and pubic fat accumulation are examples of metabolic-related conditions that affect male fertility potential. On the other hand, malnutrition can also induce negative effects on male sexual function. In this chapter, we review the molecular mechanisms associated with the nutritional state and male sexual (dys)function and the central role played by the Sertoli cells.


Nutritional support AMPK PPAR HIF Metabolic (dys)function 



This work was supported by the “Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia” (FCT) and co-funded by Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER) via Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade COMPETE/QREN to UMIB (Pest OE/SAU/UI0215/2014); POCI—COMPETE 2020—Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization in Axis I (Strengthening research, technological development and innovation) (Project No. 007491); and National Funds of FCT (Foundation for Science and Technology): PF Oliveira (PTDC/BBB-BQB/1368/2014 and IFCT2015) and MG Alves (PTDC/BIM-MET/4712/2014 and IFCT2015). L Crisóstomo was funded by the fellowship “Bolsa Nuno Castel-Branco” from the Portuguese Society of Diabetology. This work was also supported by grants from the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCYT) (PICT 2014/945) and the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) (PIP 2015/1827). M.F. Riera, M.N. Galardo, and S.B. Meroni are established investigators of CONICET. A. Gorga is a recipient of ANPCYT fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luís Crisóstomo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marco G. Alves
    • 1
  • Agostina Gorga
    • 4
  • Mário Sousa
    • 1
    • 5
  • María F. Riera
    • 4
  • María N. Galardo
    • 4
  • Silvina B. Meroni
    • 4
    Email author
  • Pedro F. Oliveira
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine (UMIB), Laboratory of Cell Biology, Department of Microscopy, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine (FMUP)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.i3S-Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em SaúdeUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.CONICET-FEI-División de Endocrinología, Hospital de Niños Ricardo GutiérrezCentro de Investigaciones Endocrinológicas “Dr César Bergadá”Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos AiresArgentina
  5. 5.Centre for Reproductive Genetics Prof. Alberto BarrosPortoPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Microscopy, Laboratory of Cell Biology and Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine (UMIB), Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  7. 7.Department of Genetics, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  8. 8.i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em SaúdeUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  9. 9.Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and BiopharmaceuticsUniversity of Bari “Aldo Moro”BariItaly

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