Season but not age affects Sertoli cell number in adult stallions.
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To evaluate the effect of age and season on Sertoli cell number per paired testes, ratio of germ cells per Sertoli cell, and daily sperm production, testes were obtained from 184 adult (4-20 yr) stallions at slaughter throughout one year. Numbers of Sertoli cells or germ cells were derived from nuclear volume density, volume of individual nuclei, and parenchymal volume. Germ cell to Sertoli cell ratios were calculated from cell numbers. Regression analysis was used to detect age-related differences in the breeding season (May-Jul) or throughout the year. A two-way analysis of variance was used to evaluate time periods (Nov-Jan, Feb-Apr, May-Jul, and Aug-Oct) and age groups (4-5.5, 6-12.5, or 13-20 yr). Paired parenchymal weight and daily sperm production per horse increased significantly with age. Neither regression nor analysis of variance revealed an effect of age on Sertoli cell number. While season contributed (p less than 0.01) to variation in Sertoli cell number per horse, there was no (p greater than 0.05) age x season interaction or age effect on Sertoli cell number. In testes obtained from adult stallions, age had no effect on the number of Sertoli cells per horse, the ratio of maturation-phase spermatids to Sertoli cells, or the ratio of all stage VIII germ cells to Sertoli cells. Given no age effect within a given season on Sertoli cell number per horse, the number of Sertoli cells in the recrudesced testis of the breeding season probably is not significantly different for a given stallion between 4 and 20 yr of age.