Knowledge of fish reproduction is of high relevance to basic fish biology and comparative evolution. Furthermore, fish are excellent biomedical models, and the impact of aquaculture on worldwide food production is steadily increasing. Consequently, research on fish reproduction and the potential modes of its manipulation has become more and more important. Reproduction in fish is regulated by the integration of endogenous neuroendocrine (gonadotropins), endocrine, and autocrine/paracrine signals with exogenous (environmental) factors. The main endocrine regulators of gonadal sex differentiation and function are steroid hormones. However, recent studies suggest that other hormones are also involved. Most prominent among these hormones are the insulin-like growth factors (Igfs), i.e., Igf1, Igf2, and, most recently, Igf3. Thus, the present review deals with the expression patterns and potential physiological functions of Igf1 and Igf2 in male and female gonads. It further considers the potential involvement of growth hormone (Gh) and balances the reasons for endocrine vs. autocrine/paracrine action of the Igfs on the gonads of fish. Finally, this review discusses the early and late development of gonadal Igf1 and Igf2 and whether they are targets of endocrine-disrupting compounds. Future topics for novel research investigation on Igfs and fish reproduction are presented.
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Vol. 82 • No. 4