Decrease of both stem cell factor and clusterin mRNA levels in testicular biopsies of azoospermic patients with constitutive or idiopathic but not acquired spermatogenic failure
BACKGROUND: Sertoli cells nurse germ cells during spermatogenesis, and alterations of Sertoli cell functions have been suggested in cases of spermatogenic failures. METHODS: In this work, we measured stem cell factor (SCF) and clusterin mRNA levels, by quantitative RT-PCR, in RNA extracted from testicular biopsies of 49 azoospermic patients classified according to testicular histology as having normal spermatogenesis or spermatogenic failure. RESULTS: When related to the percentage of Sertoli
... entage of Sertoli cells counted on a histological section of a neighbouring tissue sample, SCF and clusterin mRNA levels were significantly lower in the 'spermatogenic failure' group compared with the control group (P = 0.0297 and P = 0.0043, respectively). These levels were also significantly lower in the cases of 'constitutive' (cryptorchidism and Yq microdeletion) and 'idiopathic' spermatogenic failures when compared with the control group; conversely, they were not significantly decreased in the group with 'acquired spermatogenic failure' (orchitis, testicular traumatism, chemoradiotherapy and varicocele). CONCLUSIONS: These data further demonstrate an alteration of Sertoli cell functions in some human spermatogenic failures and suggest that a lack of Sertoli cell maturation may be involved in cases of constitutive or idiopathic spermatogenic failures.