Testosterone withdrawal promotes stage-specific detachment of round spermatids from the rat seminiferous epithelium

Liza O'Donnell, Robert I. McLachlan, Nigel G. Wreford, David M. De Kretser, David M. Robertson

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Abstract

Testosterone (T) has been shown to be essential for the completion of spermiogenesis. Our previous studies showed that when intratesticular T was suppressed for 11 wk, the conversion of round spermatids between stages VII and VIII of the spermatogenic cycle was markedly suppressed and that elongated spermatids were undetectable. The fate of the round spermatids that did not proceed through this conversion was unclear. The current study aimed to investigate this T-dependent loss of round spermatids during stages VII and VIII. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats received 24-cm T implants for 1 wk to suppress LH while maintaining spermatogenesis. The T24 implants were removed and replaced with 3-cm T plus 0.4-cm estradiol (TE treatment) to suppress intratesticular T and spermatogenesis, and animals were killed at 0 and 4 days and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 wk later. The number of homogenization- resistant elongated spermatids in the testis was counted, and round spermarid populations in stages VII and VIII were quantified using stereological techniques. The hourly production rates (HPR) were calculated, and a ratio was made between the HPR of round spermatids in stages VII and VIII to assess the efficiency of their conversion through these stages. Testicular T levels were suppressed to 2-4% of control values by TE treatment. After 2 wk of TE treatment, the number of homogenization-resistant elongated spermatids was significantly suppressed, falling to <0.5% of the control value by 6 wk. The HPR of round spermatids in stages VII and VIII was not affected by up to 2 wk of TE treatment, nor was the conversion between these stages interrupted. After 3 wk of TE treatment, the HPR of round spermatids in stages VII and VIII was significantly suppressed, as was the conversion between these stages, the ratio falling to 27% of the control value by 6 wk. In rats treated with TE, histological examination of the cauda epididymidis showed occasional round spermatids after 3 wk of treatment, and large numbers after 6 wk. We conclude that the failure of round spermatids to complete spermiogenesis following T withdrawal is due to stage-specific detachment of round spermatids between stages VII and VIII.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-901
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Volume55
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1996

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