Natural history of seminiferous tubule degeneration in Klinefelter syndrome

Human Reproduction Update
Lise AksglaedeAnders Juul


Klinefelter syndrome (47,XXY) is characterized by small, firm testis, gynaecomastia, azoospermia and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism. Degeneration of the seminiferous tubules in 47,XXY males is a well-described phenomenon. It begins in the fetus, progresses through infancy and accelerates dramatically at the time of puberty with complete hyalinization of the seminiferous tubules, although a few tubules with spermatogenesis may be present in adult life. Activation of the pituitary-gonadal axis at 3 months of age is seen in Klinefelter boys similar to healthy boys. However, the level of testosterone in Klinefelter boys is significantly lower than in controls. After this 'minipuberty', the hormone levels decline to normal prepubertal levels until puberty. In puberty, an initial rise in testosterone, inhibin B, LH and FSH occurs in Klinefelter boys. However, the rise in testosterone levels off and ends at a low-normal level in young adults. Likewise, serum concentration of inhibin B exhibits a dramatic decline to a low, often undetectable level, concomitantly with a rise in FSH, reflecting the degeneration of the seminiferous tubules. Many hypotheses about the underlying mechanism of the depletion of the germ cells in Klinefelter ma...Continue Reading


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