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Kinetics of the germinal epithelium in man



Kinetics of the germinal epithelium in man



Recent Progress in Hormone Research 20: 545-575



The sequence of events taking place in the seminiferous epithelium of man has been described and the duration of the phenomena taking place therein has been estimated. Following a description of the steps of spermatogenesis from the stem spermatogonia to the spermatozoa it was found that in man, as in other mammals, the generations of germ cells have a clear-cut tendency to form cellular associations of fixed composition. Analysis of such typical cellular associations, 6 were described here, reveals that they constitute as many "stages of a cycle of the seminiferous epithelium.'* This cycle is being defined as the complete series of the successive typical cell associations appearing with time in any given area of the seminiferous tubule. Atypical cellular associations arising from the mixing of cells at the boundary zones of adjacent cell associations, or more simply from an oblique plane of section through the seminiferous epithelium, frequently over-shadow the stages of the cycle. The regular and repetitious succession of stages of the cycle in a given area of the seminiferous epithelium is not paralleled by a regular distribution of the typical cell associations along the wall of the tubule. Therefore, in man, there is no equivalent of the "wave of the seminiferous epithelium" described in the rat and some other mammals. The duration of both the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium and of the whole spermatogenesis has been determined following a study of radioautographs of sections of testicular biopsies collected at various time intervals after intratesticular injection of thymidine-H3. It was found that one cycle of the seminiferous epithelium lasts 16 days ([plus or minus]1 day). The whole spermatogenesis which extends over the duration of 4.6 cycles thus consumes approximately 74 days. The durations of these processes were not influenced by norethandrolone and chorionic gonadotropin administration and may be considered as biological constants.

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