Distribution of Vimentin-Type Intermediate Filaments in Sertoli Cells of the Human Testis, Normal and Pathologic

Anat Embryol (Berl). 1988;178(2):129-36. doi: 10.1007/BF02463646.


The presence, distribution and spatial arrangement of vimentin-type intermediate filaments in Sertoli cells from human testis biopsies, were studied in semithin and ultrathin sections using a polyclonal rabbit antiserum. At the ultrastructural level, vimentin immunoreactivity was seen concentrated around the nuclei, along fibrillary material within the cytoplasm and at the ectoplasmic specializations of the Sertoli cell junctions, as well as throughout the periphery of the Sertoli cell processes. It is therefore well suited as a marker for Sertoli cell configuration. In computer-aided 3D reconstructions of 20 serial sections, Sertoli cells displayed particular configurations of intermediate filaments in the different stages of spermatogenesis. Two basic configurations, named AS (before spermiation, stages V, VI, I and II), and PS (after spermiation, stages III and IV) respectively, could be differentiated. In addition to the reconstruction and morphological analysis of vimentin filaments in Sertoli cells from patients with unaltered spermatogenesis (obstructive azoospermia), pathological specimens (spermatogenetic arrest, Sertoli cells only-syndrome) were studied with respect to vimentin immunohistochemistry. The results indicate that vimentin filaments play an important role in the adaptation of Sertoli cells to the varying configurations of neighbouring cells during spermatogenesis as well as under pathological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intermediate Filaments / metabolism
  • Intermediate Filaments / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Oligospermia / metabolism
  • Oligospermia / pathology
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Vimentin