Objective: To determine, using an in situ end-labeling technique, whether the frequency of apoptosis is increased in testis biopsy specimens that demonstrate abnormal spermatogenesis.
Design: Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on archived paraffin-embedded testis biopsy specimens. Apoptotic indices, defined as the number of apoptotic bodies per the total number of cells or the number of Sertoli cells, were calculated after counting all the intratubular spermatogenic cells and Sertoli cells in 20 tubules.
Setting: Major academic male factor infertility clinic.
Patient(s): Forty-eight testis biopsy specimens were obtained for routine clinical purposes from 38 men with azoospermia or severe oligozoospermia.
Intervention(s): In situ end-labeling was performed on archived paraffin-embedded testis biopsy specimens using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase.
Main outcome measure(s): Apoptotic indices.
Result(s): Significantly increased apoptotic indices were observed in patients with spermatocyte arrest, spermatid arrest, and hypospermatogenesis compared with patients with normal spermatogenesis and the Sertoli cell-only pattern.
Conclusion(s): In situ end-labeling of testis biopsy specimens from infertile men demonstrates increased apoptosis in maturation arrest and hypospermatogenesis states compared with normal spermatogenesis and the Sertoli cell-only pattern. This unique observation implicates a prominent role for this form of programmed cell death in the pathophysiology of maturation arrest and hypospermatogenesis states.