Pituitary gonadotropes synthesize and secrete follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH is a heterodimer that consists of an α- and β-subunit. The α-subunit is common to other pituitary and placental glycoprotein hormones, and the β-subunit is the hormone/receptor-specific subunit. Although the pituitary is the main tissue that accounts for circulating hormone, previous and recent reports indicate extra-pituitary sources of FSH production including mouse gonads, human stomach, prostate, umbilical cord vein endothelial cells, uterine myometrium, placenta, and chicken abdominal adipose tissue. Whether extra-pituitary derived FSH exerts any physiologically significant actions is not known. In this review, we have comprehensively analyzed the expression of mRNAs that encode mouse and human FSH subunits and also their corresponding expressed sequence tags in normal tissues, cancer cell lines, and primary tumors by public database mining. We propose criteria to assess the significance of individual FSH subunit or FSH dimer expression as well as genetic approaches to unambiguously define the physiological relevance of extra-pituitary FSH expression.
Extra-pituitary FSH expression was analyzed and several criteria proposed.