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Microsc Res Tech. 1995 Dec 1;32(5):385-422.

Efficiency of spermatogenesis.

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Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-4458, USA.


Spermatogenesis is a process of division and differentiation by which spermatozoa are produced in seminiferous tubules. A measure of efficiency of spermatogenesis is the estimated number of spermatozoa produced per day per gram of testicular parenchyma. This measure is not influenced by species differences in testicular size; however, it is influenced by species differences in the numerical density of germ cells and in the life spans of these cells. Seminiferous tubules are composed of somatic cells (myoid cells and Sertoli cells), and germ cells (spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and spermatids). Activity of these three germ cells divide spermatogenesis into spermatocytogenesis, meiosis, and spermiogenesis, respectively. Spermatocytegenesis involves mitotic cell division to increase the yield of spermatogenesis and to produce stem cells and primary spermatocytes. Meiosis involves duplication and exchange of genetic material and two cell divisions that reduce the chromosome number and yield four spermatids. Spermiogenesis is the differentiation of spherical spermatids into mature spermatids which are released at the luminal free surface as spermatozoa. The spermatogenic cycle is superimposed on the three major divisions of spermatogenesis. Spermatogenesis and germ cell degeneration can be quantified from numbers of germ cells in various steps of development throughout spermatogenesis, and quantitative measures are related to number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate. Germ cell degeneration occurs throughout spermatogenesis; however, the greatest impact occurs during spermatocytogenesis and meiosis. Efficiency of spermatogenesis is related to the amount of germ cell degeneration, pubertal development, season of the year, and aging of humans and animals. Number of Sertoli cells and amount of smooth endoplasmic reticulum of Leydig cells (but not Leydig cell number) are related to efficiency of spermatogenesis. In humans, efficiency of spermatogenesis is reflected in number of spermatogenic stages per cross-section and number of missing generations within each stage; however, the arrangement of stages along the tubular length does not reflect differences in the efficiency of spermatogenesis. In short, spermatogenesis involves both mitotic and meiotic cell divisions and an unsurpassed example of cell differentiation in the production of the spermatozoon, and daily sperm production per g parenchyma is a measure of its efficiency.

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