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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Degeneration of the seminiferous epithelium with ageing is a cause of spermatoceles?

M Itoh, X Q Li, K Miyamoto, Y Takeuchi
International Journal of Andrology 1999, 22 (2): 91-6
10194640
A spermatocele refers to the cystic accumulation of semen in the male reproductive tract. Although it is thought to be caused by narrowing of the lumen of the excurrent duct with resultant cystic dilatation of the duct, the pathogenesis of the narrowing remains unknown. In the present study, we histologically examined spontaneous spermatoceles in C3H/He mice to elucidate the pathogenesis of the lesions. Testes, efferent ducts, epididymides and vas deferens obtained from young and aged C3H/He mice were embedded in plastic for histological observation at the light microscopic level. It was found that spontaneous spermatoceles were localized in the rete testis and efferent ducts of aged mice, as seen in man. The dilated rete testis and efferent ducts contained many degenerated and aggregated germ cells derived from the exfoliated seminiferous epithelium in the aged testis. In particular, it was noted that the agglutinated germ cells obstructed the narrow lumen of the efferent ducts, resulting in the failure of transport of germ cells to the caput epididymis, and spermatoceles were consistently found in the region between the rete testis and the obstructed site in the efferent ducts. However, no inflammatory cell infiltration, traumatic injury or spermatic granulomas were found in the occluded region. These results suggest that agglutinated germ cells may occupy the narrow lumen of the efferent ducts, resulting in the formation of a spermatocele. It may be that a senile change to the seminiferous epithelium, which releases immature germ cells into the lumen of the seminiferous tubules, is the cause of this type of spermatocele.

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