Ultrastructural changes of the intercellular relationship in impaired human spermatogenesis

Hum Genet. 1980;54(3):391-404. doi: 10.1007/BF00291587.


In seven hypo- or aspermic patients, electron microscopic investigations of the intercellular connections of the seminiferous tubule were performed. The analysis of cell junctions of Sertoli cells and germ cells revealed irregularities of the Sertoli-cell junctions, hypoplasias of occluding junctions, hypo- and hyperplasias of the Sertoli-spermatid cell junctions and abnormal formation of Sertoli cell junctions with early spermatids, spermatocytes, and spermatogonia. Gap junction-like cell membrane specializations were very rare. Intercellular cytoplasmic bridges of germ cells were always present together with these cells. One hypoplastic bridge connecting two spermatogonia was found. The results allow a preliminary classification of impaired spermtogenesia. The changes of intercellular connections might disturb the blood-testis barrier as well as the intercellular communication in the seminiferous tubule. Evidence is available to support the suggestion that genetic causes play a considerable role in the etiology of the germ cell aplasia and the spermatogenic maturation arrest.

MeSH terms

  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Desmosomes / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Intercellular Junctions / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Seminiferous Tubules / ultrastructure
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Spermatids / growth & development
  • Spermatids / ultrastructure*
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure*