Acute and specific impairment of spermatogonial development by GnRH antagonist-induced gonadotrophin withdrawal in the adult macaque (Macaca fascicularis)

Y. Zhengwei, N. G. Wreford, S. Schlatt, G. F. Weinbauer, E. Nieschlag, R. I. McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the effect of GnRH-antagonist (GnRH-A)-induced gonadotrophin withdrawal on numbers of germ cells in adult cynomolgus monkeys and aimed to identify the site of the earliest spermatogenic lesion(s) produced. Animals received either GnRH-A (Cetrorelix; 450 μg kg-1 day-1 s.c.; n = 5) or vehicle (control, n = 4) for 25 days. One testis was removed on day 16 and the other testis on day 25. The optical disector stereological method was used to estimate germ and Sertoli cell numbers per testis. After GnRH-A treatment for 16 days, the number of type A spermatogonia was unchanged; however, type B spermatogonia (15% of control), preleptotene + leptotene + zygotene (15% control) and pachytene (55% control) spermatocytes were all reduced (P < 0.05). By day 25, these cells were further reduced together with step 1-6 spermatids (38% control; P < 0.05). More mature germ cells were unaffected. The proportion of type A pale spermatogonia at stages VII-XII was reduced (P < 0.05) in GnRH-A-treated groups (52% on day 16, 43% on day 25) compared with control (67%). After 25 days of GnRH-A treatment, the number of Sertoli cells was unaltered but nuclear volume was reduced (66% control, P < 0.05). Tubule length was unchanged but volume (50% control), diameter (62% control) and epithelial thickness (59% control) were reduced (P < 0.05). GnRH-A treatment suppressed serum testosterone concentrations into the castrate range, and testicular testosterone concentrations to 21-36% of control values. Serum inhibin (as an index of FSH action) was suppressed in GnRH-A-treated animals by day 16, declining to 38% of control concentrations at day 25. Therefore, the primary lesion produced by GnRH-A induced gonadotrophin withdrawal is the rapid and profound reduction in the number of type B spermatogonia. The time course of germ cell loss suggests the inhibition of type A pale spermatogonial mitosis as the primary mechanism. Later germ cell maturation, specifically meiosis and spermiogenesis, appears to proceed unaffected. The decline in late spermatocytes and spermatids by 25 days of GnRH-A treatment is attributed to a 'depletional wave' from the spermatogonial lesion. The fact that such marked spematogenic disruption occurs in the face of substantial testicular testosterone concentrations implies a significant role for FSH in spermatogonial development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Fertility
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998

Cite this