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      Stereological study of postnatal testicular development in Blackbelly sheep

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      Theriogenology

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          The objective was to characterize testicular development in Blackbelly sheep, focusing primarily on Sertoli cell number. Lambs (n=43) were allotted into eight groups, and surgically castrated at 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15,18 or 21 weeks of age (n=4-6 lambs per group). Testes were fixed and paraffin-embedded, cross-sections (5 microm) were stained and evaluated with quantitative morphometry techniques. Testis weight increased at a greater rate between 9 and 15 weeks of age, which was associated with remarkable changes in testicular histology, including increases in tubular tissue volume, and tubule diameter and length. Spermatogenesis started in a period between 9 and 12 weeks, lumen and elongated spermatids were observed for the first time at 12 weeks (78% of the tubules) and 15 weeks (37% of the tubules), respectively. Total number of Sertoli cells (mean+/-S.E.M.) increased steadily from birth (531+/-76 x 10(6)) to 15 weeks (12,008+/-1722 x 10(6)), with no changes afterwards. Sertoli cell number per gram of testicular tissue decreased as lambs were older, with the most remarkable change occurring between Weeks 9 and 12. An early increase in serum LH was observed at 6 weeks of age, with testosterone (T) increasing at Weeks 12 and 21. In conclusion, Sertoli cells maintained the capacity of proliferating from birth to 15 weeks of age in Blackbelly sheep; furthermore, the period of accelerated testis growth was associated with increased serum T concentration and with important changes in testicular morphology, as a consequence of the beginning and establishment of spermatogenesis and Sertoli cell maturation.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Theriogenology
          Theriogenology
          Elsevier BV
          0093691X
          September 2007
          September 2007
          : 68
          : 4
          : 582-591
          Article
          10.1016/j.theriogenology.2007.01.020
          17583781
          © 2007

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