SMAD3 and the secrets of male fertility

man fertility

Male puberty begins when a boy’s body starts producing testosterone. For most boys this is around age 10 to 12. Sometimes though boys will start as early as eight years old in something called “precocious puberty” or as late as 16. Understanding these differences could unlock some of the mysteries of male infertility.

Researchers focused on Sertoli cells, or nurse cells, which help the testes to mature. The Sertoli cells multiply helping the testes grow to a functional size, then stop and switch over to help with the production of sperm by creating sperm precursor cells. Male fertility is quite dependent on Sertoli cells.

Once researched, scientists found that the Sertoli cells depended on protein SMAD to make the switch. “SMAD3 is a protein that translates signals from the environment outside the cell to the nucleus, where it switches genes on or off,” said Dr. Catherine Itman, from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The pivotal part of the research lies in the rate at which SMAD3 is produced. It is found in half the normal amount which leads to faster maturation than usual. None at all creates abnormal responses to testosterone. Environmental factors, like the introduction of chemicals, can disrupt the function of SMAD3 and influence fertility.

“We hope that through our research, we will inform decisions about the influence of chemicals in our environment o n the timing o f puberty in boys and ion the fertility of adult men,” Itman said.

Source: MedicalNewsToday


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. See our Legal Statement for more details.

Fertility Clinics Directory

Find a Fertility Clinic

If you or a loved one is suffering from infertility and needs help conceiving then we are here to offer help in any way we can. We have over 450 Fertility Clinics listed on our Directory. Click here to search for a Fertility Clinic that is right for you.