Background: Decreased reproductive rates have been reported in men born prematurely. This potentially relates to an impaired Sertoli cell proliferation during the postnatal hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal activity, which has been suggested to have a role in later reproductive capacity.
Objective and hypotheses: To compare the levels of Sertoli cell markers in premature (PT) and full-term (FT) boys in infancy.
Method: Serum AMH and inhibin B (inhB) levels and testicular volumes (TV) were measured at one week (D7) and three months (M3) of calendar age and at 14 months of corrected age (cM14) in 33 PT (gestational age, GA 24.7-36.6 weeks) and 29 FT (GA 37.142.1 weeks) boys.
Results: At D7, both AMH and inhB levels were higher in PT than in FT boys (P=0.048 and P=0.001 respectively). From D7 to M3, AMH and inhB levels increased in both groups (P<0.001). AMH levels did not change significantly from M3 to cM14 in either group, but inhB levels decreased in both (P<0.001). At M3 and cM14, AMH levels were lower in PT than in FT boys (P=0.057 and 0.026 respectively). InhB levels were not significantly different between groups after D7. TV was significantly smaller in PT than in FT boys at D7, but not after that (at M3 P=0.055 and at cM14 P=0.4). AMH and inhB levels correlated only at D7 (rho=0.45, P=0.001). AMH correlated with TV at cM14 (rho=0.4, P=0.015). InhB and TV correlated positively at M3 and cM14, but at D7 their association was negative in PT (rho=−0.49, P=0.009) and positive in FT infants (rho=0.45, P=0.022).
Conclusion: Postnatal increase in AMH and inhB levels was observed not only in FT but also in PT boys indicating a robust Sertoli cell activity that is also reflected in testicular growth. High AMH and inhB levels in PT boys at D7 probably reflect decrease in fetal Sertoli cell activity towards term. After minipuberty at cM14, lower AMH levels in PT than in FT boys may indicate altered Sertoli cell function in PT boys.
Funding: This work was supported by grants from the Kuopio University Hospital, Pediatric Research Foundation, National Graduate School of Clinical Investigation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Jalmari and Rauha Ahokas Foundation, Sigrid Jusélius Foundation and Academy of Finland.
01 - 03 Oct 2015
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology