Human testicular germ cell tumours express inhibin subunits, activin receptors and follistatin mRNAs

R H van Schaik, C D Wierikx, L H Looijenga, J W Oosterhuis, F H de Jong

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Germ cell development is influenced by activin and inhibin, which are produced by Sertoli cells. Activin also affects differentiation of mouse embryonal carcinoma cells, which, to a certain extent, resemble the embryonal carcinoma component of germ cell tumours. Therefore, the expression of inhibin/activin subunits, of activin receptors and of the activin-binding protein follistatin was studied in testicular germ cell tumours, using RNAase protection assays. Testicular germ cell tumours of adolescents and adults (TGCTs) and spermatocytic seminomas expressed activin type I and type II receptors (ActRI and ActRII respectively). Seminomas expressed significantly lower levels of ActRIIA (P<0.05, Mann-Whitney U-test) and higher levels of ActRIA (P<0.05) and ActRIB (P<0.05) compared with non-seminomas. All tumours expressed inhibin beta-subunit transcripts, which are a prerequisite for activin synthesis. Non-seminomas contained significantly higher levels of the inhibin betaA subunit (P<0.001) compared with seminomas. No activin betaC subunit transcripts could be demonstrated by RNAase protection. Inhibin alpha-subunit expression was absent in the spermatocytic seminomas, in six out of nine seminomas and in 10 out of 11 non-seminomas. Follistatin was expressed predominantly in non-seminomas and spermatocytic seminomas. This expression of activin type I and type II receptors in combination with expression of inhibin beta-subunits indicates that activin may act as a para- or autocrine factor in the regulation of growth and differentiation of tumours of human germ cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-8
Number of pages8
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Activin Receptors
  • Activin Receptors, Type I
  • Follistatin
  • Germinoma/metabolism
  • Glycoproteins/metabolism
  • Growth Substances/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inhibins
  • Male
  • Peptides/metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostatic Secretory Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger/analysis
  • Receptors, Growth Factor/metabolism
  • Regression Analysis
  • Testicular Neoplasms/metabolism


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