Maturation phenotype of Sertoli cells in testicular biopsies of azoospermic men

B. Bar Shira Maymon, G. Paz, D. J. Elliott, I. Hammel, S. E. Kleiman, L. Yogev, R. Hauser, A. Botchan, H. Yavetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The involvement of Sertoli cells in different spermatogenic impairments has been studied by an immunohistomorphometric technique using cytokeratin-18 (CK-18) as a marker for immature Sertoli cells. CK-18 is known to be expressed in Sertoli cells during prenatal and prepubertal differentiation and is normally lost at puberty. Forty-nine azoospermic men were included in the current study. Quantitative measurements on testicular biopsies revealed the highest CK-18 expression in the mixed atrophy biopsies (22 men), a lower expression in the Sertoli cell-only (SCO) biopsies (12 men), and minimal residual staining in the group considered as representing normal spermatogenesis (six obstructive azoospermia patients). The cytokeratin immunopositive-stained tubules were associated either with arrest in spermatogenesis or with SCO. Examination of sections from nine men with microdeletions in the AZF region of the Y chromosome revealed that these men were either negative for CK-18 expression or showed only weak residual staining. This may suggest that the spermatogenic defect in the AZF-deleted men originates in the germ cell and has no impact on Sertoli cell maturation. The cause that determined the spermatogenic defect in the other cases of male infertility with high CK-18 expression may have damaged both the Sertoli and the germ cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1542
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • AZF microdeletions
  • Cytokeratin-18
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infertile men
  • Sertoli cells


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