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Testes of Astyanax altiparanae: The Sertoli cell functions in a semicystic spermatogenesis

Costa, F.G., Adolfi, M.C., Gomes, C.C., Jesus, L.W.O., Batlouni, S.R., Borella, M.I.
Micron 2014 v.61 pp. 20-27
Astyanax altiparanae, Sertoli cells, electron microscopy, epithelium, freshwater fish, mammals, secretion, spermatids, spermatogenesis, spermatozoa
The Astyanax altiparanae (lambari) is a South American freshwater fish belonging to the family Characidae. Although some authors have described reproductive aspects of this species, this is the first study about the morphology of the testes throughout the annual reproductive cycle of A. altiparanae. Fish spermatogenesis differs from that in mammals as it occurs in cysts whose borders are defined by cytoplasmic processes of Sertoli cells, thus creating a favorable environment for spermatogenesis. The functions commonly attributed to fish Sertoli cells were investigated using stereological, light and electron microscopy in A. altiparanae. Results showed that when the Sertoli cells of A. altiparanae are in contact with germ cells, they plan a support function that culminates in the production of spermatozoa. After releasing spermatozoa, modified Sertoli cells form the duct epithelium, transform into secretory cells and release a secretion into the duct lumen where spermatids and sperm are located. Thus, the present study revealed important aspects of the testes of A. altiparanae, and propose a sequence of functions played by the Sertoli cells in this species.