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Morphology of the bovine Sertoli cell during the spermatogenetic cycle

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The morphology of the bovine Sertoli cell was studied during 6 different phases of the spermatogenetic cycle. Tubular dimensions do not vary significantly during the phases. Sertoli cells occupy 27.0% (phase 4) to 38.4% (phase 8) of the tubular epithelium. Sertoli cells of phase 1 are approximately 20% larger than during the other phases. 30–35% of Sertoli cell volume consists of organelles. Mitochondrial (about 5.0%) and nuclear (about 5.7%) volume densities remain remarkably stable during the cycle, irrespective of changes in Sertoli cell size. Phagocytic capacity of bovine Sertoli cells is only moderate. Elimination of excess spermatid cytoplasm occurs to a large extent prior to spermiation. The majority of spermatid residual bodies undergoes autolytic decay while attached to the Sertoli cell apical surface. Aggregates of densely packed cisternae of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (ER) located in a basal position and associated with the acrosome-phase and maturation-phase spermatids contribute between 14 and 17% to Sertoli cell volume. During phase 3 the ER pinches off a large number of small, smooth-walled vesicles filled with flocculent content. The contact area between Sertoli cells and other tubular constituents changes considerably during the different phases. It is concluded that the blood-testis barrier is particularly impassable during phases 1 and 8. A lipid cycle does not exist in the bovine testicular tubular epithelium.

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Correspondence to Prof. Karl-Heinz Wrobel.

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Wrobel, K., Schimmel, M. Morphology of the bovine Sertoli cell during the spermatogenetic cycle. Cell Tissue Res. 257, 93–103 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00221638

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Key words

  • Testis
  • Sertoli cell
  • Cyclic changes
  • Morphometry
  • Bull