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Protocol to assess testicular damage by toxic agents

- Average numbers of apoptotic germ cells per 100 tubule cross-sections. Types of germ cell studied: spermatogonia to assess effects on proliferating cells, spermatocytes to study effects on the meiotic process which is sensitive to changes in Sertoli cell function and spermatids which are particularly sensitive towards changes in temperature and hormone levels.

- Seminiferous tubule diameter. The tubule diameter decreases when many cells enter apoptosis and when cells disappear by being sloughed off through the tubule lumen.

- Abnormal epithelial morphology. Sometimes, germ cells proceed more slowly through their development or there are generations of germ cells missing. Also a diminished Sertoli cell function can cause the formation of vauoles in the epithelium. These abnormalities were assessed.

- Diploid spermatids. Problems in spermatocyte development can lead to skipping of the first meiotic division and the formation of diploid spermatids easily recognizable by their large size.

These 4 parameters in conjunction with testis weight gave a good impression of the effects of endocrine disrupters on testis development and spermatogenesis but will also be useful to assess effects of other possibly toxic compounds.

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Department of Endocrinology
Padualaan, 8
3584 CH Utrecht
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