Early prepubertal testis criteria, seminiferous epithelium and hormone concentrations as related to testicular development in beef bulls.Anim Reprod Sci 2011; 124(1-2):39-47AR
The present study was conducted to evaluate testis size, spermatogenesis and hormone concentrations before and when peripheral testosterone reached 1 ng/ml as related to further gonad development of beef bulls (n=28). Blood samples were taken weekly starting at 10 weeks (wk) and when testosterone reached 1 ng/ml (AGE1), the left testis was surgically excised. From AGE1 until 54 wk, blood samples were collected to follow basal and GnRH-stimulated hormone profiles. At 54 wk, the second testis was removed. Testosterone reached 1 ng/ml at 20±0.6 wk and, at this developmental state, the seminiferous tubules occupied 57±1.1% of the testis parenchyma. At this phase, 79.3±1.4% of tubule sections had no germ cells and only 2.4±0.3% of the remaining tubules had spermatocytes as the most advanced germ cell type. Also at AGE1, testis size was correlated with the number of Sertoli cells per testis (r=0.67; P<0.05), but not (P>0.05) with the percentage of tubules with germ cells. There was a consistent increase in body weight and testis size throughout the study showing that hemicastration did not impair the development of the bulls. At 54 wk, seminiferous tubules represented 76±0.7% of the testis parenchyma and 72.3±1.7% of tubule sections were found with either round or elongated spermatids. Quantitative criteria of spermatogenesis in the second testis (excised at 54 wk) were not correlated (P>0.05) with the percentage of seminiferous tubules with germ cells in the first testis (excised at AGE1). As determined by regression analysis, testis diameter measured between 30 and 44 wk (AVTD) was associated with AGE1 and testis diameter averaged at 12 wk and AGE1 (R(2)=0.77; P<0.01). Also, AVTD was related to AGE1, testis diameter at 12 wk and concentrations of 17β-estradiol (estradiol; basal+GnRH-stimulated) averaged between 10 wk and AGE1 (R(2)=0.79; P<0.01). Yearling testis weight, in turn, was linked to AGE1 and testis weight at AGE1 (R(2)=0.49, P<0.01). In conclusion, early detection of 1 ng of testosterone/ml, larger testis size and greater estradiol before and at that developmental period positively relate to future testis attributes. When testosterone reached 1 ng/ml, the seminiferous tubules had Sertoli cells, spermatogonia and a few spermatocytes and events occurring before and at that phase are potential markers of testis growth and sperm-producing capacity of sires.