Despite the knowledge of spermatogonial biology in adult mice, spermatogonial development in immature animals has not been fully characterized. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the ontogeny of the morphological development of the spermatogonial lineage in C57BL/6 mouse testis, using high-resolution light microscopy. Spermatogonial morphology, chronology, and absolute number were determined for different ages postpartum (pp). The morphology of spermatogonia in immature mice was similar to that of adult spermatogonia, although their nuclear diameter was slightly smaller. The A1 spermatogonia were first observed on day 2 pp, and only 24 h later, differentiating type A3 and A4 spermatogonia were observed in the seminiferous cords. This result indicated a shortening of the spermatogonial phase for immature mice of about ∼2.5 days when compared with adult mice and suggests that gonocytes and/or A1 spermatogonia could directly become A4 spermatogonia, skipping the developmental sequence of type A spermatogonia. These A4 spermatogonia are functional as they develop into type B spermatogonia by day 5 pp. At day 8 pp, while differentiation to spermatocytes begins, the Aund spermatogonia reach their maximal numbers, which are maintained through adulthood. The various details of the spermatogonial behavior in immature normal mice described in this study can be used as a baseline for further studies under experimental or pathological conditions.
Ana Luiza Drumond, Marvin L Meistrich and Hélio Chiarini-Garcia
Amanda V Albuquerque, Fernanda R C L Almeida, Connie C Weng, Gunapala Shetty, Marvin L Meistrich and Hélio Chiarini-Garcia
Ionizing radiation has been shown to arrest spermatogenesis despite the presence of surviving stem spermatogonia, by blocking their differentiation. This block is a result of damage to the somatic environment and is reversed when gonadotropins and testosterone are suppressed, but the mechanisms are still unknown. We examined spermatogonial differentiation and Sertoli cell factors that regulate spermatogonia after irradiation, during hormone suppression, and after hormone suppression combined with Leydig cell elimination with ethane dimethane sulfonate. These results showed that the numbers and cytoplasmic structure of Sertoli cells are unaffected by irradiation, only a few type A undifferentiated (Aund) spermatogonia and even fewer type A1 spermatogonia remained, and immunohistochemical analysis showed that Sertoli cells still produced KIT ligand (KITLG) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Some of these cells expressed KIT receptor, demonstrating that the failure of differentiation was not a result of the absence of the KIT system. Hormone suppression resulted in an increase in Aund spermatogonia within 3 days, a gradual increase in KIT-positive spermatogonia, and differentiation mainly to A3 spermatogonia after 2 weeks. KITL (KITLG) protein expression did not change after hormone suppression, indicating that it is not a factor in the stimulation. However, GDNF increased steadily after hormone suppression, which was unexpected since GDNF is supposed to promote stem spermatogonial self-renewal and not differentiation. We conclude that the primary cause of the block in spermatogonial development is not due to Sertoli cell factors such (KITL\GDNF) or the KIT receptor. As elimination of Leydig cells in addition to hormone suppression resulted in differentiation to the A3 stage within 1 week, Leydig cell factors were not necessary for spermatogonial differentiation.