Pathophysiology of small testes in beef bulls: relationship between scrotal circumference, histopathologic features of testes and epididymides, seminal characteristics, and endocrine profiles.Am J Vet Res 1986; 47(9):1988-99AJ
Tissue sections from testes and epididymides obtained from 17 young beef bulls with scrotal circumference (SC) between 27 and 40.5 cm were studied to determine whether small testes were a manifestation of lesions or a result of less, but otherwise normal, seminiferous epithelium. The SC correlated negatively with the estimates of germinal epithelial loss and positively with seminiferous epithelial area. Four bulls with SC less than 30 cm had severe lesions in their testes. Hypoplastic tubules were characterized by Sertoli's cells only with no evidence of germinal cells. Loss of germinal cells, leaving vacuolated epithelium and atrophy, were observed in degenerated tubules. Hyperplasia of Leydig's cells was observed in the vicinity of Sertoli's cell-only tubules, resulting either from degeneration or hypoplasia, and atrophy of Leydig's cells was associated with tubules devoid of Sertoli's cells. These findings indicated that Sertoli's cells may produce a factor(s) required for maintenance and regulation of Leydig's cell function. Epididymal epithelium, especially in the head, had regressed in bulls with hypoplastic and degenerative changes in their testes. Decreased sperm concentration and motility and an increased frequency of morphologic defects were observed in the 4 bulls with testicular lesions and regressed epididymal epithelium. Blood plasma profiles of cortisol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and testosterone were determined in the 4 bulls with SC less than 30 cm and 10 of the 13 bulls with SC greater than 30 cm. There were no statistically significant (P greater than 0.1) differences in the responses to exogenous gonadotropin-releasing hormone or base-line patterns of blood plasma follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone between the 2 groups. However, in the bulls with SC less than 30 cm, the mean concentration of testosterone was lower, whether spontaneous (P less than 0.05) or exogenous gonadotropin-releasing hormone induced (P less than 0.1). The fact that these bulls were not deficient in gonadotropins indicated that Leydig's cell function was impaired by local factors, either the factors that caused the tubular damage or those consequent to the tubular damage.