Substantial involvement of the Y chromosome in sexual development and spermatogenesis has been demonstrated. Over the last decade, varying extent of Y chromosome microdeletions have been identified among infertile patients with azoospermia or oligozoospermia. These microdeletions were clustered in three main regions named AZFa, AZFb, and AZFc. Analysis of the Y chromosome microdeletion was found to be of prognostic value in cases of infertility, both in terms of clinical management as well as for understanding the aetiology of the spermatogenesis impairment. However, the accumulated data are difficult to analyse, due to the variable extent of these deletions, the different sequence-tagged sites (STS) used to detect the microdeletions, and the non-uniformity of the histological terminology used by different investigators. This debate discusses the chances of finding testicular spermatozoa in men with a varying extent of Y chromosome microdeletions. The genotype and germ cell findings in men with AZFa microdeletions as well as those that include more than a single AZF region are reviewed, as is the effect of Y chromosome AZF microdeletions on the maturity of the Sertoli cells.
Copyright (C) 2001, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
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