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1 November 2003 Morphological Characterization of the Spermatogonial Subtypes in the Neonatal Mouse Testis
Luis Dettin, Neelakanta Ravindranath, Marie-Claude Hofmann, Martin Dym
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Abstract

Spermatogenesis is the process of differentiation of diploid type A spermatogonia to haploid spermatozoa. Several subtypes of A spermatogonia have been characterized in the adult mouse testis. These include A-single (As), A-paired (Apr), A-aligned (Aal), and A1–A4. However, in the immature testis, very little information is available on subtypes and morphological features of type A spermatogonia. Six-day-old mouse testes, fixed either in Bouin solution or 5% glutaraldehyde, were embedded in paraffin and Epon, respectively. Thick sections (∼1 µm) of Epon-embedded tissue were stained with toluidine blue and revealed three subtypes of spermatogonia by light microscopy. The smallest spermatogonia (subtype I) appeared as single cells and exhibited a round or oval flattened nucleus with one or two prominent dense nucleoli and a characteristic unstained round and centrally located vacuole. These cells bound toluidine blue more avidly and appeared darker in comparison with the other cell types. Electron microscopy of thin sections (90 nm) revealed a finely granulated chromatin homogeneously distributed in the nucleus and sparse organelles in the cytoplasm. The second subtype of spermatogonia (subtype II) also displayed dark staining but was larger than subtype I; there was no central vacuole in the nucleus and heterochromatin clumps were observed. The largest subtype of spermatogonia (subtype III) showed large heterochromatin clumps and a pale staining nucleus. Intercellular bridges were noted between subtypes II and III. Based on the dye avidity, the three subtypes were classified as dark, transitional, and pale spermatogonia, respectively. Image analyses of 30 different cells of each subtype revealed a decline in gray-scale intensity from subtype I to III. Five-micrometer sections of paraffin-embedded tissue were immunoassayed with an antibody against the glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor family receptor alpha-1 (GFRα-1) receptor, a putative marker for undifferentiated spermatogonia, showing positive reaction only in germ cells. The pattern of GFRα-1 expression, coupled to the overall morphology of the cells, indicates that at this stage of development, mouse seminiferous tubules contain essentially As, Apr, and possibly Aal spermatogonia. Thus, the present study indicates the presence of subtypes of type A spermatogonia in the immature mouse testis similar to that described previously in adult monkey and man.

Luis Dettin, Neelakanta Ravindranath, Marie-Claude Hofmann, and Martin Dym "Morphological Characterization of the Spermatogonial Subtypes in the Neonatal Mouse Testis," Biology of Reproduction 69(5), 1565-1571, (1 November 2003). https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.103.016394
Received: 24 February 2003; Accepted: 1 June 2003; Published: 1 November 2003
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KEYWORDS
early development
gametogenesis
male reproductive tract
spermatogenesis
testis
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