The frequencies of the cellular associations of the seminiferous epithelium were determined at various ages after birth in immature Djungarian hamsters and Wistar rats. The frequencies of the cellular associations present in immature animals were then compared with the frequencies of the corresponding pooled stages in adult animals. At 15 days of age, the cellular associations present in Djungarian hamsters could be divided into four groups based on the presence of A3, intermediate (In), or B (B1 and B2) spermatogonia, or preleptotene–leptotene–zygotene spermatocytes. Compared with adult animals, the group containing spermatocytes was found to be enriched by 52%, while the frequency of the B spermatogonia was reduced by 55%. At 22 days of age, the cellular associations of spermatogenesis were classified into five groups: pachytene spermatocytes associated with A3 spermatogonia, In spermatogonia, B spermatogonia, or preleptotene–leptotene–zygotene spermatocytes, or the meiotic divisions. The stages containing preleptotene–leptotene–zygotene spermatocytes and those containing A3 spermatogonia were enriched by 35% and 59% compared with adult values, respectively. The meiotic divisions were enriched by 21%, but this increase was not significant. The frequency of the B spermatogonia was reduced by 62%. In addition, the synchronization factor, calculated with the computer program SYNTEST, was increased to 1.48 ± 0.05 (mean ± sem) and 1.38 ± 0.03 at 15 and 22 days of age, respectively, and was significantly higher (P < 0.001 at both ages) than the adult value of 1.08 ± 0.02. However, after 22 days of age the synchronization factor did not differ from that in adult animals. These data indicate that spermatogenesis was partially synchronized in Djungarian hamsters up to 22 days of age. In Wistar rats from 22 days of age onwards, all tubular cross-sections could be classified. No consistent enrichment of epithelial stages was found at any age examined. Furthermore, at any age tested the synchronization factor did not differ from adult values, confirming the lack of synchronization in the immature Wistar rat. The partial synchronization in immature Djungarian hamsters probably originates from the rather synchronous start of gonocyte proliferation. The lack of synchronization in immature rats is probably a consequence of the slower start of gonocyte proliferation in this species.
L. H. Van Haaster and D. G. De Rooij
L. H. van Haaster, F. J. C. M. van Eerdenburg and D. G. de Rooji
The effect of the pre- and postnatal daylength on the start of spermatogenesis and further testicular development from day 4 up to day 127 was investigated in Djungarian hamsters. Hamsters were either gestated under long (16 h light:8 h dark) photoperiod and reared under long or short (4 h light:20 h dark) photoperiod after birth (L/L and L/S hamsters, respectively), or gestated under short photoperiod and transferred to long photoperiod after birth (S/L hamsters). In L/L and L/S hamsters, spermatogenesis started between day 4 and day 5 (day of birth = day 1), when the first gonocytes entered the S-phase. A, Intermediate and B spermatogonia were first observed on days 6, 8 and 9, respectively. The proliferation pattern of gonocytes and Sertoli cells, studied between day 4 and day 9, did not differ between L/L and L/S hamsters. Hence, the duration of the postnatal photoperiod had no effect on the start of spermatogenesis. The first effect of postnatal photoperiod on spermatogenic development was observed on day 15, when testis weights and tubular diameters were reduced in L/S animals. From day 22 onwards, spermatogenesis was arrested mainly at the mid-pachytene stage, no tubular lumen was formed, and the number of preleptotene spermatocytes was reduced. The ultimate number of Sertoli cells per testis was not affected by postnatal short photoperiod. The duration of the prenatal photoperiod had a clear effect on spermatogenesis after birth. In S/L hamsters, the number of gonocytes per tubular cross-section was reduced on day 4 and 4.5. Gonocyte proliferation was reduced on day 5 and spermatogenesis started one day later. Consequently, A and Intermediate spermatogonia appeared on day 7 and 9, respectively. Sertoli cell proliferation was also shifted to later ages, but the ultimate number of Sertoli cells did not differ from L/L or L/S hamsters. From day 29 onwards, the number of preleptotene spermatocytes was increased in S/L hamsters, indicating that the Sertoli cells in these animals could support more germinal cells. In conclusion, a short postnatal photoperiod does not affect spermatogenesis before day 15 after birth, when further testicular development becomes arrested. A short prenatal photoperiod delays the start of spermatogenesis by one day, alters the proliferation pattern of Sertoli cells, and from day 29 onwards, enables the Sertoli cells to support more germinal cells. The duration of the pre- and postnatal photoperiod did not affect the ultimate number of Sertoli cells.