Postnatal development of the tubular lamina propria and the intertubular tissue in the bovine testis

Research paper by Karl-Heinz Wrobel, Stefanie Dostal, Margit Schimmel

Indexed on: 01 Jun '88Published on: 01 Jun '88Published in: Cell and Tissue Research


The postnatal development of intertubular cells and vessels and of the tubular lamina propria was studied in three locations of perfusion-fixed bovine testes from 31 animals ranging from 4 to 78 weeks. The postnatal morphological differentiation of the testis is not uniform, regional differences have to be considered. The intertubular cell population is composed of mesenchyme-like cells, fibrocytes, Leydig cells, peritubular cells and mononuclear cells. In 4 and 8-week-old testes mesenchyme-like cells are the dominating element. These pluripotent cells proliferate by frequent mitoses and are the precursors of Leydig cells, contractile peritubular cells and fibrocytes. Morphologically differentiated Leydig cells are encountered throughout the entire period of postnatal development. In 4-week-old testes degenerating fetal and newly formed postnatal Leydig cells are seen in juxtaposition to each other. From the 8th week on, only postnatal Leydig cells are present. Between 16 and 30 weeks large-scale degeneration of prepuberal Leydig cells is observed. The Leydig cells that survive this degenerative phase constitute the long-lasting adult population. 20–30% (numerically) of all intertubular cells at all ages are free mononuclear cells. These are found as lymphocytes, plasma cells, monocytes, macrophages and light intercalated cells (LIC). The latter are monocyte-derived, Leydig cell-associated typical cells of the bovine testis. The differentiation of the two main components of the tubular lamina propria, (i) basal lamina and (ii) peritubular cell sheath, seems to be effected rather independent from each other and also from hormonal signals important for the development of the germinal cells. The laminated basal lamina reaches nearly 3 μm at 16 weeks and is later on continuously reduced. At 25 weeks the peritubular cells have transformed into contractile myofibroblasts. At this period the germinal epithelium is still in a prepuberal state.