Germ cell apoptosis in the testes of normal stallions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Apoptosis in testicular germ cells has been demonstrated in many mammalian species. However, little is known about the stallion (Equus caballus) and rates of apoptosis during spermatogenesis. Morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis reported in other species were used to confirm that the TdT-mediated dUTP Nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay is an acceptable method for identification and quantification of apoptotic germ cells in histological tissue sections from stallion testis. Seminiferous tubules from eight stallions with normal testis size and semen quality were evaluated according to stage of seminiferous epithelium to determine the germ cell types and stages where apoptosis most commonly occurs. Spermatogonia and spermatocytes were the most common germ cell types labeled by the TUNEL assay. A low rate of round and elongated spermatids were labeled by the TUNEL assay. Mean numbers of TUNEL-positive germ cells per 100 Sertoli cell nuclei were highest in stages IV (15.5 +/- 1.0) and V (13.5 +/- 1.1) of the seminiferous epithelial cycle (P < 0.001). An intermediate level of apoptosis was detected in stage VI (P < 0.02). These stages (IV-VI) correspond to meiotic divisions of primary spermatocytes and mitotic proliferation of B1 and B2 spermatogonia. Establishing basal levels of germ cell apoptosis is a critical step towards understanding fertility and the role of apoptosis in regulating germ cell numbers during spermatogenesis.

published proceedings

  • Theriogenology

author list (cited authors)

  • Heninger, N. L., Staub, C., Blanchard, T. L., Johnson, L., Varner, D. D., & Forrest, D. W.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Heninger, Noah L||Staub, Christophe||Blanchard, Terry L||Johnson, Larry||Varner, Dickson D||Forrest, David W

publication date

  • July 2004