Intermediate-sized filaments present in Sertoli cells are of the vimentin type

Eur J Cell Biol. 1979 Aug;19(3):269-75.


The cytoplasmic structure of Sertoli cells of rat testes has been studied by electron microscopy of ultrathin sections. Sertoli cells contain numerous intermediate-sized (7-11 nm) filaments which form a meshwork extending throughout the whole cytoplasm. Often the frequency of such filaments appears especially high in juxtanuclear and cortical regions, including the apical recesses containing the spermatids. Examination of frozen sections of testes by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy using guinea pig antibodies to prekeratin and vimentin has shown the absence of intermediate-sized filaments of the cytokeratin type in all cells of the testes but the presence of filaments of the vimentin type in Sertoli cells as well as in cells of the interstitial space. These results show that the intermediate-sized filaments, abundant in Sertoli cells, are of the vimentin type. In addition we conclude that the "germ epithelium" differs from others true epithelia by the absence of cytokeratin filaments and typical desmosomes and, in Sertoli cells, the presence of vimentin filaments, suggestive of a mesenchymal character or derivation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Rats
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Subcellular Fractions / ultrastructure
  • Testis / ultrastructure


  • Proteins
  • Keratins