Local initiation of spermatogenesis in the horse.
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Gross observation of testicular parenchyma of 1.5- to 2-yr-old horses reveals both light and dark regions. If this gross, differential shading reflects quantitative differences in the development of spermatogenesis and interstitial cell populations, the horse may prove to be a useful model for study of the paracrine relationships associated with initiation of spermatogenesis. The objective of this study was to characterize seminiferous tubules and interstitium of testes with gross, differential shading. Testes with both light and dark regions of parenchyma were obtained from horses 1.5-2 yr old and compared to parenchyma of fetal, 2-yr-old, or 5-yr-old horses. Stereology was used on tubular and interstitial components, and luminal development of seminiferous tubules was scored. Volume density of seminiferous tubules, percentage of tubules with large vacuoles or a complete lumen, and number of primary spermatocytes per gram were greater (p < 0.05) in light parenchyma than in dark parenchyma. The percentage of tubules with no lumen and the percentage of parenchyma occupied by interstitial space were greater (p < 0.05) in fetal and dark parenchyma than in light parenchyma. The number of Leydig cells per gram parenchyma was similar (p > 0.05) in both light parenchyma and dark parenchyma. A greater percentage (p < 0.05) of other (nonvascular, non-Leydig, nonmacrophage) cells was found in the dark parenchyma than in light parenchyma or in testes of 2- or 5-yr-old horses. The volume density of macrophages was notably greater (p < 0.05) in fetal and dark parenchyma than in light parenchyma or in testes from older horses. Variation in development of seminiferous tubules was not associated with the volume density of blood vessels. In conclusion, the gross, differential shading of equine testicular parenchyma with its corresponding differences in seminiferous tubular development is a clear example of the effect of local factors leading to the local initiation of spermatogenesis.