We characterised and correlated the histological and hormonal aspects of a cohort of 261 azo/oligozoospermic men, applying a quantitative/qualitative evaluation of testicular tissue and serum and intratesticular hormonal measurements. One hundred and 93 azo⁄oligozoospermic patients were diagnosed as: complete sertoli cell only syndrome (cSCOS), n = 76; focal SCOS, n = 31; maturation arrest, n = 34; hypospermatogenesis, n = 17; mixed atrophy, n = 25; and severe atrophy, n = 10. Normal spermatogenesis was observed in 68 infertile men (controls). Patients with cSCOS, focal SCOS, mixed and severe atrophy had larger LC/clusters (11.5; 11.0; 10.7; 18.9 LC/cluster) than controls (6 LC/cluster; P < 0.001). cSCOS, focal SCOS, mixed and severe atrophy patients had higher FSH, LH and lower T/LH ratio serum levels than the other groups. Intratesticular testosterone concentrations were higher in tissues with complete or focal SCOS (45.6 ng mg(-1) protein) and mixed atrophy (79.0 ng mg(-1) protein) than normal tissues (20.3 ng mg(-1) protein; P = 0.03 and P = 0.007). Considering all subjects, significant correlations were found between T/LH ratio and Leydig cells/cluster (r = 0.510, P < 0.001), FSH levels (r = -0.692, P < 0.001) and with intratesticular testosterone (r = -0.354, P = 0.001); these correlations follow the pattern of severity of spermatogenic damage. By a thorough histological evaluation, we validate the concept that the severity of spermatogenic impairment is associated with major morphological and functional disturbance of the Leydig cell compartment.
Keywords: Intratesticular testosterone; leydig cell dysfunction; leydig cell hyperplasia; spermatogenic failure; testicular histology.
© 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.