A matter of death and life: the significance of germ cell death during spermatogenesis

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The significance of cell death occurring during spermatogenesis is a subject of interest because of its potential medical importance. Unfortunately, the field has been difficult for andrologists to penetrate, in part because of the difficulties of studying germ cells in vitro and the complexity of designing suitable models in which to dissect the molecular signalling pathways involved in control of germ cell apoptosis. As a result, the reasons for these deaths remain unclear despite considerable investigative effort. As developments which have occurred over the last few years in understanding of apoptosis can shed light on this important topic, this review focuses on what is currently known about germ cell apoptosis and outlines the emerging picture of what might be the causes and biological role of germ cell deaths in spermatogenesis.

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