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APMIS. 2003 Jan;111(1):25-30; discussion 31.

Multinucleated spermatogonia in cryptorchid boys: a possible association with an increased risk of testicular malignancy later in life?

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The Department of Pediatric Surgery, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


At birth, undescended testes contain germ cells, but after 1 year of life, a reduced number of germ cells is generally found. Microlithiasis and carcinoma-in-situ-testis occur in cryptorchid boys. Multinucleated germ cells, including at least 3 nuclei in the cell, exist in impaired spermatogenesis and in the senescent testis.


We investigated whether multinucleated spermatogonia were present in undescended testes of cryptorchid boys, and if such a pattern is associated with special clinical features.


Multinucleated spermatogonia occurred in 13/168 (8%) of 163 consecutive cryptorchid boys, who underwent surgery for cryptorchidism with simultaneous testicular biopsy showing seminiferous tubules. The patients with multinucleated spermatogonia more often exhibited a normal germ cell number (Fisher's exact test, p<0.0005), and were younger at surgery (Mann Whitney, p<0.005) than the rest of the patients. Before surgery, 3 patients underwent treatment with Erythropoietin because of renal failure. An intra-abdominal testis underwent clipping and division of the spermatic vessels, and a biopsy at final surgery 7 months later, exhibited multinucleated spermatogonia. In 1 case the undescended testicular position, a fixed retraction, was acquired after surgery for an inguinal hernia. Multinucleated spermatogonia were found in cases of carcinoma-in situ-testis in 2 cryptorchid boys. No case of multinucleated germ cells appeared in our normal material.


Multinucleated spermatogonia are a further abnormality present in cryptorchidism. The cryptorchid boys with multinucleated spermatogonia in general exhibited rather many germ cells. This feature may be associated with an increased risk of testicular malignancy later in life, and we propose a careful follow up regime in these cases including ultrasound examination and a testicular biopsy in cases of symptoms or clinical findings.

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