Purpose: Increased testicular apoptosis has been observed in maturation arrest and hyposper-matogenesis states in rodent models, but this process has not yet been characterized in humans. We hypothesized that increased cell death present with accelerated apoptosis is significant in pathophysiology of many male infertility states associated with abnormal spermatogenesis. We examined frequency of apoptotic bodies in human testis biopsy specimens from infertile men using morphometric analysis of hematoxylin and eosin stained paraffin sections.
Materials and methods: Testis biopsy specimens were obtained for routine clinical purposes from azoospermic and severely oligozoospermic men and were stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Apoptotic bodies were identified using established morphometric criteria. Apoptotic indexes, defined as apoptotic bodies per total number of cells and per Sertoli cells, were calculated after counting all intratubular spermatogenic cells and Sertoli cells in 20 tubules.
Results: A total of 51 biopsies was performed in 50 men. Significantly increased apoptotic body per total cell and apoptotic body per Sertoli cell ratios were observed in maturation arrest and hypospermatogenesis states in comparison to Sertoli cell only and normal spermatogenesis (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney test).
Conclusions: Increased apoptosis in maturation arrest and hypospermatogenesis states compared to normal but obstructed spermatogenesis and Sertoli cell only were observed, indicating a prominent role for this form of programmed cell death in human male infertility.