OBJECTIVE:

To assess the types, distributions, and numbers of immune cell infiltrates in the testes of men with azoospermia.

DESIGN:

Prospective study.

SETTING:

University research and clinical institutes.

PATIENT(S):

Thirty-one men with azoospermia showing normal spermatogenesis (n = 10), germ cell maturation arrest (GA, n = 12), and Sertoli cell-only syndrome (SCO, n = 9).

INTERVENTION(S):

Testicular tissue biopsies. Sections were stained with routine (hematoxyline and eosin), special (Masson Trichrome, Gordon, Periodic Acid Schiff, Aldehyde Fuchsin, and Orcein stains), and immunoperoxidase stains (using monoclonal antibodies for B and T cells and CD68 macrophages).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

Serum levels of T, FSH, and LH in addition to histopathological analysis.

RESULT(S):

Hormonal profiles were unremarkable in all patients. Marked deposition of the reticular and collagen fibers was seen more in abnormal than normal spermatogenesis. The immune (B and T lymphocytes and CD68 macrophages) and mast cells were found in the interstitium, tubular walls, and lumens of all the testes analyzed. The differential counts of these cells (B and T lymphocytes, CD68 macrophages, and mast cells, respectively) were higher in SCO (1.66 +/- 0.46, 9.14 +/- 1.30, 2.26 +/- 1.68, 3.35 +/- 0.23) and GA (2.03 +/- 0.48, 4.70 +/- 1.00, 2.61 +/- 0.70, and 4.18 +/- 0.13) when compared with those in normal spermatogenesis (1.22 +/- 0.19, 5.41 +/- 0.58, 1.55 +/- 0.33, and 2.26 +/- 0.13). Increased cellular counts were not statistically significant for T and B cells and macrophages. However, these differences were statistically significant for mast cells.

CONCLUSION(S):

Abnormal spermatogenesis is associated with increased numbers of the immune and mast cells. Our findings may reflect an exaggerated immune response in these cases.