The gilthead seabream is a protandrous hermaphrodite seasonal breeding teleost with a bisexual gonad that offers an interesting model for studying the testicular regression process that occurs in both seasonal testicular involution and sex change. Insofar as fish reproduction is concerned, little is known about cell renewal and elimination during the reproductive cycle of seasonal breeding teleosts with asynchronous spermatogenesis. We have previously described how acidophilic granulocytes infiltrate the testis during postspawning where, surprisingly, they produce interleukin-1β, a known growth factor for mammalian spermatogonia, rather than being directly involved in the elimination of degenerative germ cells. In this study, we are able to discriminate between spermatogonia stem cells and primary spermatogonia according to their nuclear and cytoplasmic diameters and location in the germinal epithelium, finding that these two cell types, together with Sertoli cells, proliferate throughout the reproductive cycle with a rate that depends on the reproductive stage. Thus, during spermatogenesis the spermatogonia stem cells, the Sertoli cells, and the developing germ cells (primary spermatogonia, A and B spermatogonia, and spermatocytes) in the germinal compartment, and cells with fibroblast-shaped nuclei in the interstitial tissue proliferate. However, during spawning, the testis shows few proliferating cells. During postspawning, the resumption of proliferation, the occurrence of apoptotic spermatogonia, and the phagocytosis of nonshed spermatozoa by Sertoli cells lead to a reorganization of both the germinal compartment and the interstitial tissue. Finally, the proliferation of spermatogonia increases during resting when, unexpectedly, both oogonia and oocytes also proliferate. This proliferative pattern was correlated with the gonadosomatic index, testicular morphology, and testicular and gonad areas, suggesting that complex mechanisms operate in the regulation of gonocyte proliferation in hermaphrodite fish.
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