Germ Cells

  • Lucia Castellani-Ceresa
Part of the Clinics in Andrology book series (CLAN, volume 3)


The seminiferous tubule is lined by a highly specialized epithelium, the germinal or seminiferous epithelium, which rests upon a thin basal lamina. In the adult, the seminiferous epithelium is composed of two main groups of cells, the nutrient and supporting elements (Sertoli cells) and the germinal or spermatogenic cells. The germ cells constantly undergo changes in the continuous process of differentiation that leads to the mature spermatozoa. The sequence of events by which spermatogonia are transformed into spermatozoa is referred to as spermatogenesis, which involves three processes (Figure 1). The first is spermatocytogenesis, in which spermatogonia undergo mitotic divisions to multiply themselves and become spermatocytes. The reduction from the diploid to the haploid number of chromosomes takes place during meiosis, in which spermatocytes undergo two maturation divisions and spermatids result. Cellular differentiation is referred to as spermiogenesis; during this phase a number of developmental events occur which lead to the formation of mature spermatozoa.


Germ Cell Sertoli Cell Basal Lamina Seminiferous Tubule Primary Spermatocyte 
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers bv, The Hague 1980

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  • Lucia Castellani-Ceresa

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