The recent unraveling of structures of genes for the gonadotropin subunits and gonadotropin receptors has provided reproductive endocrinologists with new tools to study normal and pathological functions of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Rare inactivating mutations that produce distinctive phenotypes of isolated LH or FSH deficiency have been discovered in gonadotropin subunit genes. In addition, there is a common polymorphism in the LHbeta subunit gene with possible clinical significance as a contributing factor to pathologies of LH-dependent gonadal functions. Both activating and inactivating mutations have been detected in the gonadotropin receptor genes, a larger number in the LH receptor gene, but so far only a few in the gene for the FSH receptor. These mutations corroborate and extend our knowledge of clinical consequences of gonadotropin resistance and inappropriate gonadotropin action. The information obtained from human mutations has been complemented by animal models with disrupted or inappropriately activated gonadotropin ligand or receptor genes. These clinical and experimental genetic disease models form a powerful tool for exploring the physiology and pathophysiology of gonadotropin function and provide an excellent example of the power of molecular biological approaches in the study of pathogenesis of diseases.

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Endocrine Reviews
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Huhtaniemi, I.T, & Themmen, A.P.N. (2000). Mutations of gonadotropins and gonadotropin receptors: elucidating the physiology and pathophysiology of pituitary-gonadal function. Endocrine Reviews. Retrieved from