The primary purpose of this study was to establish whether Sertoli cells proliferate in the neonatal period in the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus) and whether administration of a long-acting GnRH antagonist (GnRHa) during this phase induced any transient or permanent effects on Sertoli cell number or on any other aspect of testicular development. Male marmoset co-twins (n = 9) were treated during Weeks 1–14 with either vehicle or GnRHa. Four sets of co-twins were examined at Weeks 18–22 (start of infancy) and 5 sets in adulthood (92 wk), and Sertoli cell number was determined using either the nucleator or optical disector methods; other testicular morphometric analyses (e.g., germ cell volume, Leydig cell volume) used standard point-counting. Data for the marmoset were compared with that obtained in similarly treated rats. Sertoli cell number in marmosets treated neonatally with GnRHa was reduced by 35% compared with that of controls at Weeks 18–22 but was comparable to control values in adulthood. However, seminiferous epithelium volume was reduced significantly in adult marmosets treated neonatally with GnRHa, and there was a tendency for reduced germ cell volume per Sertoli cell. In the same animals, there was significant expansion of the interstitium and an increase in Leydig cell volume per testis when compared with co-twin controls; a similar increase in Leydig cell volume was evident in adult rats treated neonatally with GnRHa. Comparison of Sertoli cell numbers in 6 infantile (18–24 wk) and 10 adult marmosets showed that adult numbers of Sertoli cells were present by the start of infancy but, unlike rats, marmosets were still able to replicate Sertoli cells beyond this period. However, marmoset Sertoli cells supported only ∼20% of the germ cell volume supported by rat Sertoli cells, indicative of poor efficiency of spermatogenesis, as shown previously in the human. This finding, together with the demonstration of a temporal pattern of Sertoli cell replication similar to that in the human, supports the use of marmosets as a model for human male testicular development and function.
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