Detection of calretinin expression in abnormal immature sertoli cells in non-obstructive azoospermia

Batia Bar-Shira Maymon*, Haim Yavetz, Leah Yogev, Sandra E. Kleiman, Beatriz Lifschitz-Mercer, Letizia Schreiber, Amnon Botchan, Ron Hauser, Gedalia Paz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study identified for the first time calretinin expression in abnormal Sertoli cells of azoospermic men who underwent testicular biopsy for sperm recovery and application of the retrieved sperm by in vitro fertilization techniques. Testicular biopsies with various spermatogenic impairments were evaluated immunohistochemically for the expression of the calretinin calcium-binding protein and the marker for immaturity of Sertoli cells, cytokeratin-18 (CK-18). Distribution of the markers was assessed in testes demonstrating a histological phenotype of mixed atrophy, Sertoli cell-only, or normal spermatogenesis (obstructive-azoospermia) and in men carrying a deletion in the azoospermia factor region located on the Y chromosome. Calretinin-immunopositive immature Sertoli cells revealed by co-localization of both markers, calretinin and CK-18, were identified in the mixed atrophy group in seminiferous tubules demonstrating spermatogenic failure. Sertoli cells expressing both markers were rarely detected in all other groups. Leydig cells in all the assessed biopsies expressed calretinin and served as a built-in control for immunoreactivity. This pattern of calretinin-selective expression in immature Sertoli cells suggests a functional relationship between calretinin expression and the degree of Sertoli cell differentiation. Disorders of Sertoli cell differentiation as indicated by calretinin and/or CK-18 expression contribute to the multifactorial mechanisms underlying spermatogenic failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalActa Histochemica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2005


  • Calretinin
  • Cytokeratin-18
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Non-obstructive azoospermia
  • Sertoli cell differentiation
  • Testicular biopsies


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