Purpose of review: To review recent information leading to a better understanding of the endocrinology of male puberty, including information from earlier stages of life.
Recent findings: Differences in relative levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in the neonatal period have been further described, as well as changes in inhibin B and anti-Müllerian hormone levels. Studies among men with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism suggest a role for the ‘minipuberty of infancy’ in inhibin B levels. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog-stimulated LH levels at the age of puberty may be useful in diagnosing hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Inhibin B levels are likewise useful in monitoring spermatogenic activity.
Summary: Data from fetal life (men born small for gestational age with evidence of a defect in steroidogenesis, relatively high LH:FSH ratio among very premature boys), neonatal period (attenuated rise of inhibin B after rFSH stimulation among men with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism), and puberty (often demonstrable by LH levels alone, progressive rise of insulin-like factor 3 levels, and decrease of anti-Müllerian hormone levels as a consequence of FSH and LH stimulation), all enhance the understanding of the physiology of puberty.