Visualization of Reinke’s crystals in normal and cryptorchid testis
Within the human testis, Reinke’s crystals are found in Leydig cells but their nature and function are poorly understood. The aim of our study was to investigate the properties of Reinke’s crystals in man with the normal morphology of the testis (control group) and infertile patients diagnosed with cryptorchidism. 20 biopsies from infertile patients and six biopsies from men with regular spermatogenesis (20–30 years.) were used. Sections of the testis tissue were stained with haematoxylin and eosin and a modified Masson’s method. Specimens were observed by bright field, confocal and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The number of Reinke’s crystals in investigated groups was determined applying stereological methods. In both groups, Reinke’s crystals were noted within the cytoplasm and nuclei of Leydig cells. Some “free” crystals were found within the interstitial space, outside Leydig cells. Confocal microscopy proved to be very useful in the assessment of the shape and 3D reconstruction of the crystal. TEM analysis confirmed a hexagonal form of the crystal, while crystallographic data on sections of 70–300 nm thickness provided a better insight into the organization of the crystal lattice. Stereological analysis revealed a significant increase in the number of crystals in cryptorchid testes when compared with controls. Increased number of crystals in cryptorchid specimens leads to the assumption that the prolonged exposure to higher (abdominal) temperature might stimulate enzymes involved in the synthesis of the proteins of the crystal. However, the exact molecular nature of the crystal lattice remains in both normal and cryptorchid testis obscure.
KeywordsTestis Reinke’s crystals Cryptorchidism Confocal microscopy Electron microscopy Stereology
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