PMID: 11322332Jan 1, 1995

Ultrastructure of human Leydig cells at early gonadal embryogenesis

Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology = Archivio Italiano Di Anatomia Ed Embriologia
S MakabeP M Motta


The ultrastructure of human Leydig cells at different stages of the testicular prenatal development is described by means of transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Between 5 and 7 weeks of gestation (w.g.) the interstitial tissue of the gonad is filled with small undifferentiated mesenchymal cells, migrating primordial germ cells and blood vessels. When the embryo is 7 to 8 weeks-old Leydig cells (LC) appear in basically two morphological patterns, light and dark cells. Their most significative feature is the development of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) as a dense tubulo-vesicular network and the presence of numerous pleomorphic mitochondria with mainly lamellar cristae. At 14 and 16 w.g. the testicular interstitium reaches the maximum development; the cytoplasm of the LC shows a widespread network of anastomosing tubules of the SER and mitochondria with tubular cristae. Fetal LC show a partial cell coat, lack the crystals of Reinke, have few lipid droplets and show no signs of massive cell degeneration, at least until 16 w.g. These ultrastructural modifications in fetal LC are in accordance with the changes in both steroidogenic activity and hCG levels reported by the literature to occur at this stage of devel...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Fetal Structures
Structure of Interstitial Cell of Leydig
Scanning Electron Microscopy

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