Author(s): Iczkowski KA, Sun EL, Gondos B
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Abstract Testes from rabbits aged 1-9 weeks were examined by light microscopy. Changes in seminiferous tubule dimensions, testicular volume, and volume fraction of tubules were assessed. Germ cells and Sertoli cells were counted in round tubular cross sections and total germ cell number in each testis was estimated. Mitotic, meiotic, and degenerative activities of germ cells as well as their basal or central positions within tubules were quantified. A marked, steady increase in testis volume and in tubular length and volume occurred over the prepubertal period; but diameter underwent no significant increase and in fact decreased until week 4. Overall, tubules lengthened 40-fold and testis volume increased 25-fold; the percentage volume of the testis occupied by tubules rose from one-third neonatally to three-fifths at the onset of spermatogenesis. The ratio of germ cells to total tubular (germ and Sertoli) cells was lowest at 3 weeks. However, the total number of germ cells increased little until 3 weeks, after which it rose at a sharp rate commensurate with testis volume. Percentage of germ cells in mitosis peaked sharply at 3 weeks, dropped in subsequent weeks, and then rose at 7 weeks at the initiation of spermatogenesis. Importantly, the surge in mitosis at 3 weeks was followed by a redistribution of germ cells to a predominantly basal location from 3 to 7 weeks. Meiotic activity was sparse at 7 weeks and became abundant by 9 weeks. Germ cell degeneration remained relatively constant during weeks 1 through 6, with an increase at 7 weeks.
This article was published in Am J Anat
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology