Follicle-stimulating hormone regulates both sertoli cell and spermatogonial populations in the adult photoinhibited Djungarian hamster testis

Sarah J. Meachem, Peter G. Stanton, Stefan Schlatt

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    The hormones that regulate spermatogonial development are ill defined, in part due to lack of appropriate experimental models. The photoinhibited hamster model provides a rich source of spermatogonia, thus making it an ideal model to study their control. This study aimed to assess the effects of FSH, in the absence of testosterone, on the reinitiation of Sertoli cell and spermatogonial development in the photosensitive adult Djungarian hamster. Hamsters raised under long photoperiods (LD, 16L:8D) were exposed to short photoperiods (SD, 8L:16D) for 11 wk, leading to suppression of gonadotropins and regression of testicular function. Groups of 10 animals then received FSH alone or in combination with the antiandrogen, flutamide, for 7 days. Two control groups maintained either under long or short photoperiods were treated with vehicle. Sertoli and germ cell number were then determined using the optical disector (sic) stereological technique. The number of Sertoli cells, type A spermatogonia, type B spermatogonia/preleptotene spermatocytes, and leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes were suppressed in SD controls to 66%, 34%, 19%, and 10% (all P < 0.01) of long-day control values, respectively. Later germ cell types were not detected. FSH treatment, with or without flutamide, increased Sertoli cell number (P < 0.01) to normal long-day values. Similarly, FSH treatment in the absence/presence of flutamide increased type A spermatogonia, type B spermatogonia/preleptotene spermatocytes, and leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes to ∼85%, 69%, and 80% (all P < 0.01) of long-day controls, respectively. Our data demonstrate that the reinitiation of spermatogonial maturation in this model is dependent on FSH in the presence of an antiandrogen. Surprisingly, the adult Sertoli cell population in this model is also hormone dependent. This naturally occurring model provides a unique opportunity to understand the mechanisms (apoptotic and/or proliferative) by which FSH regulates Sertoli and germ cell development in the adult animal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1187-1193
    Number of pages7
    JournalBiology of Reproduction
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2005


    • Flutamide
    • Follicle-stimulating hormone
    • Germ cells
    • Sertoli cells
    • Spermatogenesis
    • Stereology
    • Testis

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