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Protein & Peptide Letters


ISSN (Print): 0929-8665
ISSN (Online): 1875-5305

Review Article (Mini-Review)

INSL3: A Marker of Leydig Cell Function and Testis-Bone-Skeletal Muscle Network

Author(s): Paolo Facondo, Andrea Delbarba, Filippo Maffezzoni, Carlo Cappelli and Alberto Ferlin*

Volume 27 , Issue 12 , 2020

Page: [1246 - 1252] Pages: 7

DOI: 10.2174/0929866527666200925105739

Price: $65


This article reviews the role of INSL3 as biomarker of Leydig cell function and its systemic action in testis-bone-skeletal muscle crosstalk in adult men. Insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) is a peptide hormone secreted constitutively in a differentiation-dependent mode by testicular Leydig cells. Besides the role for the testicular descent, this hormone has endocrine anabolic functions on the bone-skeletal muscle unit. INSL3 levels are low in many conditions of undifferentiated or altered Leydig cell status, however the potential clinical utility of INSL3 measurement is not yet well defined. INSL3 levels are modulated by the long-term cytotropic effect of the hypothalamicpituitary- gonadal axis, unlike testosterone that is acutely sensitive to the stimulus by luteinizing hormone (LH). INSL3 directly depends on the number and differentiation state of Leydig cells and therefore it represents the ideal marker of Leydig cell function. This hormone is more sensitive than testosterone to Leydig cell impairment, and the reduction of INSL3 in adult men can precociously detect an endocrine testicular dysfunction. Low INSL3 levels could cause or contribute to some symptoms and signs of male hypogonadism, above all sarcopenia and osteoporosis. The measurement provided suggested that the measurement of INSL3 levels should be considered in the clinical management of male hypogonadism and in the evaluation of testicular endocrine function. The monitoring of INSL3 levels could allow an early detection of Leydig cell damage, even when testosterone levels are still in the normal range.

Keywords: Insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3), leydig, testis-bone-muscle crosstalk, hypogonadism, testosterone, osteoporosis, sarcopenia.

Graphical Abstract
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