Sertoli Cells: Sertoli cells are present in the seminiferous tubules of the male gonads, the testes. It was first observed in 1865 by a young Italian physician Enrico Sertoli and named after him. It comprise one of the two types of cells in the germinal epithelium, the other being of spermatogonia lineage. These are one of the most important cells necessary for sperm production in males. They are often identifiable as big, tightly linked cells near the basolateral portion of the seminiferous tubule. They are also known as sustentacular cells of Sertoli and are the nursemaid cells of the primary spermatogonia.
Structure of Sertoli Cells
- Sertoli cells are the biggest, non-uniformly shaped cells of the germinal epithelium in the seminiferous tubules.
- They are most reliably identified by always being the largest columnar cell that is still attached to the basal lamina of the basement membrane, and span to the apical lumen of the cross-sectioned seminiferous tubule.
- They are often irregular, or pyramidal-shaped, but will always be towards the basolateral side, as opposed to the secondary spermatogonia and spermatids towards the lumen.
- The Sertoli cells can be differentiated from the nearby primary spermatogonia.
- Primary spermatogonia often have darker distinct nuclei in a small circular uniform cell, as opposed to Sertoli cells having more paler nuclei in a larger, irregularly shaped cell.
Functions of Sertoli Cells
- They help in supporting, protecting and provide nutrition to spermatogenic cells.
- Play a role in the paracrine and endocrine control of spermatogenesis.
- It regulate cholesterol metabolism at the time of spermatogenesis.
- They help in the movement of spermatozoa by secreting fluids.
- They phagocytose apoptotic cells, foreign bodies, etc.
- They secrete the androgen-binding protein under the influence of follicular stimulating hormone (FSH).
- Secret inhibin B hormone that suppresses the release of FSH.
- Helps in formation of a blood-testes barrier by tight junctions between them.
Harmones Secreted by Sertoli Cells
- AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone)
- Testosterone binding globulin
- Testicular ceruloplasmin
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