Ultrastructural study of the boar seminiferous epithelium: changes in cryptorchidism.J Morphol 2000; 244(3):190-202JM
The present study compares the ultrastructural features of Sertoli cells and germ cells between scrotal testes of healthy boars and abdominal testes of unilateral and bilateral cryptorchid boars. In healthy boars, spermatogonia are flat cells lying in close association with the basal lamina. As differentiation progresses, spermatogonia acquire an oval profile and lose their contact with the basal lamina. Spermatocytes are round cells moving from the basal compartment of the seminiferous epithelium to the luminal compartment. Spermatids exhibit complex morphological changes leading to the formation of spermatozoa. Sertoli cells extend from the basal lamina to the tubular lumen. The nucleus encloses fine euchromatin and one or two nucleoli; the nuclear envelope has a few deep infoldings. The lateral cell membranes form junctional specializations that constitute the blood-testis barrier. The cytoplasm encloses smooth endoplasmic reticulum, vesicles, aggregates, and scattered mitochondria. The seminiferous epithelium of abdominal testes from unilateral and bilateral cryptorchid boars contains few spermatogonia with an abnormal appearance; the alteration in germ cell number is more severe in the bilateral disease. In unilateral cryptorchid boars, spermatogonia appear as either large pyramidal cells or roundish cells; in bilateral cryptorchid boars, spermatogonia show roundish profiles and degenerative patterns. Abdominal testes of both unilateral and bilateral cryptorchid boars are constituted by immature Sertoli cells that show abnormal cytoplasmic content, defective development of the blood-testis barrier, and atypical nuclear appearance; in bilateral cryptorchid boars, immature Sertoli cells exhibit degenerative signs. At postpubertal age, unilateral and bilateral cryptorchidism induce total arrest of spermatogenesis at spermatogonial stage as a result of an abnormal differentiation of the Sertoli cells. Moreover, the degeneration of abdominal testes initiates earlier in bilateral cryptorchidism than in unilateral cryptorchidism.