Quantification of the human Sertoli cell population: its distribution, relation to germ cell numbers, and age-related decline. Academic Article uri icon


  • The human Sertoli cell population was characterized in 14 men by histometric analysis and by direct counts of nuclei in testicular homogenates. Testes obtained at autopsy were perfused with glutaraldehyde and embedded in Epon. Nucleolar and nuclear volumes were determined by the formula of a sphere given the diameter of the nucleoli or average diameter of nuclei measured at the height and width. Nuclear volume was also estimated by adding volumes of nuclear profiles in 0.5-micron serial sections. Sertoli cell number/g was calculated by the product of the percentage nucleoli or nuclei in the parenchyma, parenchymal volume, and histologic correction factor divided by the volume of a single nucleolus or nucleus. Also, Sertoli cell nuclei were counted directly in homogenates of fixed parenchyma. Number of Sertoli cells/g was similar (P greater than 0.05) whether determined by serial sections or in homogenates, but the estimate based on the nucleolar method was higher (P less than 0.01) and the nuclear measurement method was lower (P less than 0.01) than that for serial sections. A group of 37 men aged 20 to 48 yr had significantly (P less than 0.01) more Sertoli cells than did 34 men aged 50 to 85 yr. It is concluded that: 1) the homogenate method is valid for quantification of the Sertoli cell population, 2) Sertoli cells are evenly distributed in different regions of the testis, 3) the average human Sertoli cell supports relatively few germ cells, 4) the human Sertoli cell population declines with age, and 5) there is a significant relationship between sperm production rates and number of Sertoli cells.

published proceedings

  • Biol Reprod

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, L., Zane, R. S., Petty, C. S., & Neaves, W. B.

citation count

  • 197

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, L||Zane, RS||Petty, CS||Neaves, WB

publication date

  • November 1984