, Volume 278, Issue 3, pp 595-600

Localization of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) immunoreactivity and hormone receptor mRNA in testicular tissue of infertile men

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Testicular biopsies from 82 oligo-or azoospermic male patients were subjected to immunostaining using anti-human FSH antibodies. Histological evaluation showed normal spermatogenesis (nspg) in 7 (FSH: 2.7±0.7), mixed atrophy (ma) in 63 (FSH:5.3±0.5), and bilateral or unilateral Sertoli Cell Only syndrome (SCO) in 12 (FSH:21.7±3.5) patients. For the relationship between FSH values and testicular histology, see Bergmann et al. (1994). FSH immunoreactivity was found exclusively in Sertoli cells and in some interstitial cells. Seminiferous epithelium showing normal or impaired spermatogenesis displayed only weak immunoreactivity compared to intense immunoreaction, i.e. large and numerous vesicles in Sertoli cells of SCO tubules in biopsies showing mixed atrophy or SCO. In addition, h-FSH receptor mRNA was demonstrated by in situ hydridization using biotinylated cDNA antisense oligonucleotides. Hybridization signals were found within the seminiferous epithelium exclusively in Sertoli cell cytoplasm associated with normal spermatogenesis and in epithelia showing different signs of impairment, including SCO. It is concluded that: (1) Sertoli cells are the only cells within the seminiferous epithelium expressing FSH receptors; (2) the accumulation of FSH immunoreactivity in Sertoli cells of SCO tubules appears to be a sign of impaired Sertoli cell function.