Spermatogenesis in Asian men appears to be more susceptible to suppression by steroidal contraceptives administered in clinical trials than spermatogenesis in Caucasian men. The objective of this study was to determine whether ethnic differences exist in testicular structure and spermatogenic potential that might predispose Asians to a high sensitivity to steroidal contraceptives. Testes from 12 Chinese men were compared to those from 8 Hispanic men and 12 non-Hispanic Caucasian men of ages 29 ± 3, 30 ± 2, and 29 ± 3 years, respectively. Testes were fixed by vascular perfusion with glutaraldehyde, further fixed in osmium, embedded in Epon, and evaluated by stareology using 0.5-μm sections stained with toluidine blue. Homogenates of fixed testes were evaluated for the number of Sertoli cells and the daily sperm production based on pachytene primary spermatocytes (PDSP) or spermatids with spherical nuclei (DSP). Paired parenchymal weight was less (P < 0.05) in Chinese men than in Hispanic or Caucasian men. The PDSP per gram of parenchyma was lower (P < 0.05) and the DSP per gram tended to be lower in Chinese men than in other groups. The histologic appearance, volume density, and length per man of seminiferous tubules were the same among the ethnic groups; however, the diameter of seminiferous tubules was less (P < 0.05) in Chinese than in Hispanic or Caucasian men. The PDSP per man and the DSP per man were lower (P < 0.05) in Chinese than in Hispanic or Caucasian men. The number of Sertoli cells per gram was higher (P < 0.05) in Chinese or Caucasian men than in Hispanic men, but the number of Sertoli cells per man was lower (P < 0.05) in Chinese men than in Hispanic or Caucasian men. Sertoli cell function, measured as the number of germ cells accommodated by a single Sertoli cell, was lower (P < 0.05) in Chinese men than in Caucasian men. The volume density of Leydig cell cytoplasm was greatest (P< 0.05) in Chinese men, but the number of Leydig cells was similar among the ethnic groups. Hence, smaller testes coupled with reduced Sertoli cell number and function and reduced daily sperm production could predispose Asian men to have a heightened negative response of testes to steroidal contraceptives, as compared to Caucasian men. Dampening (by exogenous androgens) of any physiological benefit to spermatogenesis that a high volume density of Leydig cell cytoplasm may bestow on the human testis (that Asian men may have evolved to require) would exacerbate ethnic differences in the spermatogenic response to hormonal contraceptives.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Andrology|
|State||Published - May 1 1998|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Reproductive Medicine