Testis, seminiferous tubules
Within the seminiferous tubules of the testis, the complex appearance of the tubule epithelium results from the presence germ cells undergoing meiosis nestled among the columnar epithelial Sertoli cells.
The organization of tubule epithelium appears most clearly when individual tubules are cut in cross section.
Any particular section of tubule epithelium represents a "snap-shot" of germ cells at one arbitrary moment during the process of sperm cell formation.
- Large round nuclei nearer the base of the epithelium belong to cells early in the process of meiotic cell division -- spermatogonia, primary spermatocytes. Nuclear texture in these cells depends on the precise stage of meiosis.
- Nuclei nearer the lumen belong to concluding stages of meiosis -- secondary spermatocytes, spermatids, and spermatozoa.
Between the tubules is a delicate connective tissue stroma, or interstitial tissue, containing clusters of testosterone-producing Leydig cells.
Leydig cells may be recognized not only by their location within the testicular interstitium but also by their round nuclei and extensive acidophilic cytoplasm.
Contractile myoid cells surround each tubule.
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Last updated: 11 April 2002 / dgk