Germ cell apoptosis in the human testis

Pflugers Arch. 2001;442(6 Suppl 1):R159-60. doi: 10.1007/s004240100007.


Apoptosis is a widespread phenomena during development. It represents a form of cell death and has a crucial role in tissue homeostasis. Apoptosis is also involved in a number of pathological conditions. Spermatogenesis is a dynamic process of germ cell proliferation and differentiation. During regular spermatogenesis, the number of testicular germ cells degenerate by an apoptotic process. The significance of regulating cell population by apoptosis is more apparent when sperm production is halted. The presence and frequency of apoptosis in germ cells of human testis biopsy specimens were tested. The results confirm the presence of germ cell apoptosis but not the apoptosis of Sertoli cells. The increased apoptotic index was observed in patients with azoospermia in comparison with normal but obstructed spermatogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Infertility, Male / pathology*
  • Male
  • Seminiferous Tubules / pathology*
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*