Summary. On Day 1 of age rats were treated with 500 μg oestradiol benzoate. Oestrogen-treated rats had increased numbers of Sertoli cells per reference area or volume, whereas the total number of cells per testis was unchanged. The mean nuclear size was significantly smaller in oestrogen-treated rats than in control rats, at 22 and 45 days of age. The volume density of the heterochromatin clumps decreased from 22 to 45 days of age in control rats (68% fall), the decrease being slower in oestrogenized animals (30% fall) during the same period. The differences were significant at 45 days of age only. The relative volume occupied by the nuclear membrane infoldings was significantly less in oestrogenized rats than in control ones at the two ages considered. Nucleolar development was delayed in oestrogen-treated rats, which had lower numbers of nuclear sections showing nucleoli, as well as a decrease in the nucleolar diameter. We suggest that these Sertoli cell alterations are due to the altered gonadotrophin and testosterone concentrations induced by the steroid treatment rather than to a direct effect of oestrogen.
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