ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2018) 56 EHM1 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.56.EHM1

Unraveling Secrets of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis

Ilpo Huhtaniemi


As in all fields of the life sciences, enormous development has taken place in my special field of interest, i.e. reproductive endocrinology, during the nearly 50 years’ time that I have been involved in basic and clinical research. My research has focused to large extent on functions of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and more specifically on physiology and pathophysiology of gonadotrophin function. My research career in not unlike the human life-span, because my first studies concerned fetal endocrinology, demonstrating testosterone production in human fetal testis and its regulation by hCG. I thereafter focused on function of gonadotrophin receptors and their role on normal and pathological gonadal function. More recently, I have become interested in endocrinology of the aging male. One earlier study that I was pleased to be involved in was the discovery of the first inactivating mutation of FSH receptor in humans. We subsequently continued on the line of unraveling the molecular mechanisms involved in mutations of gonadotrophin and their receptor genes by producing several genetically modified mouse models (transgenic and knockout) for disturbances of gonadotrophin function. These studies unraveled novel functional features of gonadotrophins in the regulation of gametogenesis, as tumor promoters, in extragonadal functions, and concerning molecular aspects of their actions. Finally, my participation in the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) has widened understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of male aging – an appropriate way to round up the career for an aging reproductive scientist. In this lecture I will review some of our findings along the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis that have furthered our knowledge about this fascinating regulatory cascade, in addition to providing me with some intellectual satisfaction of discovery.

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