Sertoli Cell Number Defines and Predicts Germ and Leydig Cell Population Sizes in the Adult Mouse Testis

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Abstract

Sertoli cells regulate differentiation and development of the testis and are essential for maintaining adult testis function. To model the effects of dysregulating Sertoli cell number during development or aging, we have used acute diphtheria toxin−mediated cell ablation to reduce Sertoli cell population size. Results show that the size of the Sertoli cell population that forms during development determines the number of germ cells and Leydig cells that will be present in the adult testis. Similarly, the number of germ cells and Leydig cells that can be maintained in the adult depends directly on the size of the adult Sertoli cell population. Finally, we have used linear modeling to generate predictive models of testis cell composition during development and in the adult based on the size of the Sertoli cell population. This study shows that at all ages the size of the Sertoli cell population is predictive of resulting testicular cell composition. A reduction in Sertoli cell number/proliferation at any age will therefore lead to a proportional decrease in germ cell and Leydig cell numbers, with likely consequential effects on fertility and health.

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