Testis morphometry, seminiferous epithelium cycle length, and daily sperm production in domestic cats (Felis catus).

Research paper by Luiz R LR França, Christiane L CL Godinho

Indexed on: 28 Feb '03Published on: 28 Feb '03Published in: Biology of reproduction


There is very little information regarding the testis structure and function in domestic cats, mainly data related to the cycle of seminiferous epithelium and sperm production. The testis weight in cats investigated in the present study was 1.2 g. Compared with most mammalian species investigated, the value of 0.08% found for testes mass related to the body mass (gonadosomatic index) in cats is very low. The tunica albuginea volume density (%) in these animals was relatively high and comprised about 19% of the testis. Seminiferous tubule and Leydig cell volume density (%) in cats were approximately 90% and 6%, respectively. The mean tubular diameter was 220 microm, and 23 m of seminiferous tubule were found per testis and per gram of testis. The frequencies of the eight stages of the cycle, characterized according to the tubular morphology system, were as follows: stage 1, 24.9%; stage 2, 12.9%; stage 3, 7.7%; stage 4, 17.6%; stage 5, 7.2%; stage 6, 11.9%; stage 7, 6.8%; and stage 8, 11 %. The premeiotic and postmeiotic stage frequency was 46% and 37%, respectively. The duration of each cycle of seminiferous epithelium was 10.4 days and the total duration of spermatogenesis based on 4.5 cycles was 46.8 days. The number of round spermatids for each pachytene primary spermatocytes (meiotic index) was 2.8, meaning that significant cell loss (30%) occurred during the two meiotic divisions. The total number of germ cells and the number of round spermatids per each Sertoli cell nucleolus at stage 1 of the cycle were 9.8 and 5.1, respectively. The Leydig cell volume was approximately 2000 microm3 and the nucleus volume 260 microm3. Both Leydig and Sertoli cell numbers per gram of testis in cats were approximately 30 million. The daily sperm production per gram of testis in cats (efficiency of spermatogenesis) was approximately 16 million. To our knowledge, this is the first investigation to perform a more detailed and comprehensive study of the testis structure and function in domestic cats. Also, this is the first report in the literature showing Sertoli and Leydig cell number per gram of testis and the daily sperm production in any kind of feline species. In this regard, besides providing a background for comparative studies with other fields, the data obtained in the present work might be useful in future studies in which the domestic cat could be utilized as an appropriate receptor model for preservation of genetic stock from rare or endangered wild felines using the germ cell transplantation technique.