Inhibin B plasma concentrations in oligozoospermic subjects before and after therapy with follicle stimulating hormone

Carlo Foresta, Andrea Bettella, Marco Rossato, Giovanni La Sala, Massimo De Paoli, Mario Plebani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate inhibin B and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion in a large group of oligozoospermic subjects affected by different degrees of testicular damage, before and after FSH treatment. A total of 135 oligozoospermic subjects (sperm count <20 x 10 6/ml) were evaluated for seminal parameters and FSH, luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone and inhibin B plasma concentrations. Testicular structure was analysed with bilateral fine needle aspiration cytology. Inhibin B showed an inverse correlation with FSH, no correlation with sperm concentration and a significant relationship with intratesticular spermatid number, demonstrating that testicular spermatids play an important role in the control of inhibin B production. Twenty-five subjects with sperm counts <10 x 10 6/ml were treated with FSH; 11 of these had basal FSH and inhibin B plasma concentrations in the normal range (group A), while in seven subjects FSH was elevated (> 7 IU/l) with normal inhibin B (group B), and in seven patients FSH was high and inhibin B reduced (<80 pg/ml) (group C), During treatment, in group A patients inhibin B plasma concentrations increased significantly after 2, 3 and 4 weeks of FSH administration and declined thereafter to pre-treatment concentrations. Groups B and C did not show any modification during the treatment. In the same period, in group A FSH increased significantly after 2, 3 and it weeks and subsequently declined. In groups B and C, FSH increased significantly after 2 weeks and remained elevated during the following period. The results of the present study confirm the significant inverse correlation between inhibin B and FSH plasma concentrations in subjects with disturbed spermatogenesis, and demonstrate that inhibin B reflects Sertoli cell function and their interaction with spermatids. FSH and inhibin B concentrations are an expression of the spermatogenic status of seminiferous tubules. FSH treatment seems to modify inhibin B plasma concentrations only in subjects with normal basal FSH and inhibin B, independently from the effects of this therapy on sperm production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-912
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Cytology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • FSH therapy
  • Inhibin B
  • Oligozoospermia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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