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Hum Pathol. 1992 Sep;23(9):1011-8.

Macro-orchidism: light and electron microscopic study of four cases.

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Department of Morphology, School of Medicine, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.


A hormonal and quantitative light microscopy study of one man with macro-orchidism associated with mental retardation and fragile X chromosome (case no. 1) and three men with idiopathic macro-orchidism (cases no. 2 to 4) is reported. Hormonal study revealed slightly increased follicle-stimulating hormone serum levels in cases no. 1 to 3. The testes from cases no. 1 (orchidoepididymoectomy specimen) and 2 (testicular biopsy) presented interstitial edema and three different tubular patterns that were arranged in a mosaic-like manner. Type I tubules had an increased diameter (less than 220 microns), dilated lumen, and thin seminiferous epithelium usually consisting of Sertoli cells, spermatogonia, primary spermatocytes, and sometimes a few spermatids. Type II tubules had a normal diameter (180 to 220 microns) and germ cell development varied between complete spermatogenesis and Sertoli-cell-only tubules. Type III tubules had decreased diameter (less than 180 microns), atrophic seminiferous epithelium, and thickened tunica propria. The appearance of the nuclei of the Sertoli cells in the three types of tubules could be either mature or immature. Some of the mature Sertoli cells presented a granular cytoplasm. A few of these granular cells grouped together, forming nests that protruded into the tubular lumen. The testicular biopsies from cases no. 3 and 4 only presented type II tubules that contained both mature and immature Sertoli cells. Quantitative study revealed that the large testicular size was principally due to an increased tubular length in all four cases. Although the seminiferous tubule lesions and interstitial edema suggest an obstructive process, the testicular excretory ducts (studied in case no. 1) appeared normal or only slightly dilated. It is possible that the seminiferous tubule lesions (dilated lumen and germ cell depletion) might be secondary to the Sertoli cell lesions (granular cytoplasm and nuclear immature-like pattern.

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