In-vitro differentiation of spermatogenic cells is a potential approach to the treatment of male sterility due to spermatogenic arrest. This is a pilot study evaluating meiotic, morphogenetic and cytoplasmic maturation of spermatogenic cells from 18 patients with obstructive azoospermia, during in-vitro culture of partly disintegrated testicular biopsy samples in the presence or absence of recombinant follicle stimulating hormone (rFSH). Meiotic progression was detectable only in the presence of rFSH in culture medium. FSH-dependent condensation, peripheral migration and protrusion of spermatid nuclei, together with FSH-independent flagellar growth, were the main events indicating post-meiotic sperm cell differentiation. rFSH also promoted the progression of spermatid cytoplasmic maturation, reflected by acceleration of acrosomal development. These differentiation events appeared to be mediated by humoral activity of Sertoli cells, without the need for a direct Sertoli-sperm cell contact. These findings provide a background for similar studies in patients with non-obstructive azoospermia. If reproducible in the latter group, transmeiotic in-vitro differentiation of primary spermatocytes may be useful in cases of complete maturation arrest, whereas the development of culture-specific forms may help select viable spermatids in cases of complete spermiogenesis failure.
Copyright (C) 1998, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
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