Liver X receptors (LXRs) are ligand-dependent transcription factors acting as ‘cholesterol sensors’ to regulate lipid homeostasis in cells. The two isoforms, LXRα (NR1H3) and LXRβ (NR1H2), are differentially expressed, with the former expressed predominantly in metabolically active tissues and the latter more ubiquitously. Both are activated by oxidised cholesterol metabolites, endogenously produced oxysterols. LXRs have important roles in lipid metabolism and inflammation, plus a number of newly emerging roles. They are implicated in regulating lipid balance in normal male reproductive function and may provide a link between male infertility and lipid disorders and/or obesity. Studies from Lxr knockout mouse models provide compelling evidence to support this. More recently published data suggest distinct and overlapping roles of the LXR isoforms in the testis and recent evidence of a role for LXRs in human male fertility. This review summarises the current literature and explores the likely link between LXR, lipid metabolism and male fertility as part of a special issue on Liver X receptors in International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
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