The inter-Sertoli junctions of children aged between 5 and 12 years, affected by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, were analyzed in sections and freeze-fracture replicas. The testicular biopsies were performed at the end of therapy, when patients were in continuous remission for over 30 months. Chemotherapy does not seem to affect the development of junctions that were studied in sections and freeze fracture. Two age groups were considered (I, 5 to 8 years; II, 9 to 12 years). In age group I, oval Sertoli cells were connected by occasionally focal points of fusion, which in replicas appeared as scattered, interrupted ridges on the P face and grooves on the corresponding E face. In age group II Sertoli cells presented cytoplasmic extensions and interdigitations. Tight junctions appeared close to one another in conventional sections. Freeze fracture evidenced extensive although isolated areas formed by intervining strands. Lanthanum penetrated freely the intercellular spaces and gap junctions were observed in both age groups. The results suggest that tight junctions formation is initiated long before puberty; a progression in the complexity of the strand organization is present as the tubules mature; the strands reorganize in parallel and continuous rows only at puberty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)