Posts Tagged ‘puberty’

Spermatogenic Defects in Sex Reversed Mice

Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.


“Sex reversed” (Sxr) is an inherited form of sex reversal that causes XX and XO mice to develop as phenotypically normal males. Adult XYSxra mice exhibit varying degrees of spermatogenic deficiency but are usually fertile, while XOSxra mice have severe spermatogenic failure and are always sterile. The present quantitative spermatogenic analysis reports when these anomalies first appear during puberty. The results demonstrate that in XYSxra mice there was increased degeneration of pachytene spermatocytes and, to a lesser extent, meiotic metaphase stages. On average, there were only one-half the number of spermatids compared with the XY controls. The defect in XOSxra mice appeared a little later, with an almost complete arrest and degeneration during the meiotic metaphases.


A minority of XYSxra mice are sterile, and these may have testes as small as those from XOSxra mice. Adult XOSxra mice have consistently small testes and are invariably sterile. The reported results document the testicular defects in XYSxra and XOSxra testes as they first arise during puberty. The only other quantitative data on XYSxra and XOSxra spermatogenesis are for adult mice. A previous report described XYSxra testes as being a “mosaic” of normal and defective spermatogenesis. Recently a more extensive analysis was carried out of adult XYSxra and XOSxra testes. Once again there is good agreement with the present results in that the spermatogenic failure in XYSxra testes was predominantly between pachytene and diplotene, while in XOSxra testes the block was predominantly during the meiotic metaphases. To explain the spermatogenic anomalies in XYSxra and XOSxra testes, Burgoyne and Baker (1984) invoked the “meiotic pairing site” hypothesis of Miklos (1974). The other notable feature of the present study was the demonstration that the testicular deficiency is manifested earlier (with respect to age and spermatogenic stage) in XYSxra testes than in XOSxra testes. Krzanowska (1989) recently reported increased levels of X-Y univalence in pubertal XY males. So, it is suggested that this reduced efficiency of X-Y pairing at puberty that leads to the increased incidence of diploid spermatids in pubertal XYSxra males and to the presence of diploid spermatids in pubertal XY males. The other feature of pubertal XYSxra testes that deserves mention is the increase in the number of differentiating spermatogonia.


The conclusion is that most of the spermatogenic deficiencies in XYSxra and XOSxra testes can be explained in terms of the “meiotic pairing site” hypothesis, which links spermatogenic failure with sex chromosome univalence during meiosis. In XYSxra testes a variable proportion of pachytene spermatocytes have the X and Y unpaired, and the elimination of these cells explains the variable reduction in testis size and fertility. In XOSxra testes all spermatocytes have a univalent sex chromosome, accounting for the almost total spermatogenic block in these mice. It is suggested that the affected spermatocytes are eliminated earlier in XYSxra testes than in XOSxra testes, because two univalent sex chromosomes have more unpaired sites than the univalent X alone.




Sutcliffe M. J., Darling S. M., Burgoyne P. S. (1991) Spermatogenesis in XY, XYSxra and XOSxra Mice: A quantitative analysis of spermatogenesis throughout puberty. Molecular Reprod. Dev. 30(2), 81–89.


Burgoyne P. S., Baker T. G. (1984) Meiotic pairing and gametogenic failure. In CW Evans and HG Dickinson (eds): “Controlling Events in Meiosis (38th Symp SOC Exp Biol).” Cambridge Company of Biologists, pp 349-362.


Miklos G. L. G. (1974) Sex-chromosome pairing and male fertility. Cytogen. Cell Genet. 13, 558-577.


Krzanowska H (1989) X-Y chromosome dissociation in mouse strains differing in efficiency of spermatogenesis: Elevated frequency of univalents in pubertal males. Gamete. Res. 23, 357-365.

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Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.

It is well established that food restriction delays pubertal onset, whereas refeeding abolishes this delay. In addition, murine and human genetic models of leptin deficiency fail to enter puberty, and treatment with leptin can establish a pulsatile secretory pattern of gonadotropins that is characteristic of early puberty. The female transgenic skinny mouse, which is an in vivo model of chronic hyperleptinemia in the absence of adipose tissue, enters puberty precociously. Data regarding the effects of leptin administration on pubertal onset are controversial. It has been shown that intracerebroventricular leptin administration prevents the delay in vaginal opening induced by chronic food restriction in the rat. By contrast, it has been found that artificially raised leptin levels are not sufficient to abolish the delay of pubertal onset caused by food deprivation. Thus, the question arises whether leptin might be a ‘permissive factor’ (tonic mediator), whose concentration above a certain threshold is required for pubertal onset, or a ‘trigger’ (phasic mediator) that determines the pubertal spurt through a rise in serum concentration at an appropriate time of development.

The temporal correlation between increases in leptin concentration and the initiation of LH pulsatility over the peripubertal period has been studied in several species. In men it has been shown that leptin levels rise by 50% before the onset of puberty, and decrease to baseline after the initiation of puberty. Other cross-sectional studies showed that age has a significant effect on serum leptin concentrations through prepuberty into early puberty. It has been reported repeatedly that there are no significant changes in leptin levels over the peripubertal period in male rhesus macaques; however, more recent studies performed in castrated male monkeys showed that nocturnal levels of leptin increase just before the nocturnal prepubertal increase in pulsatile LH release.

A possible explanation for such contrasting reports in monkeys could be the sampling of nocturnal rather than diurnal blood. Indeed, in primates, prepubertal changes in nocturnal LH release occur approximately five months before diurnal variations. Another reason might be the use of different models: agonadal monkeys were treated with intermittent exogenous GnRH to sensitize the pituitary to endogenous GnRH, thus magnifying the LH release independently from gonadal influences. In the same study, the leptin rise was accompanied by a sustained increase in nocturnal GH and IGF-I concentrations before the onset of puberty, which is defined as the increase in nocturnal pulsatile LH secretion. It is not clear whether one of the two metabolic signals has a predominant role or whether both act in concert. Indeed, it has been reported that the maximum increase in GH and leptin occurs simultaneously, about 10–30 days before the onset of puberty. However, these conclusions were based on results from a study that used castrated animals, which in the strictest sense do not undergo puberty. Thus, it remains to be clarified whether the same mechanisms that result in the onset of the pubertal rise in LH secretion in castrated animals are also responsible for the reactivation of the HPG axis in intact animals.

The sexual dimorphism in leptin concentrations becomes evident after puberty. In males, leptin levels rise throughout childhood, reach a peak in the early stages of puberty and then decline, whereas they increase steadily during pubertal development in females. Consequently, leptin levels are three to four times higher in females than in males. The reason for this postpubertal sexual dimorphism in leptin levels is not clear. After puberty, serum testosterone and testicular volume are inversely related to leptin levels in males, whereas in females, when adjusted for adiposity indexes, estradiol is directly correlated with leptin levels. These observations indicate that androgens and estradiol might account, at least in part, for the gender differences in circulating leptin levels. This is also supported by in vitro studies which show that androgens and estrogens inhibit and stimulate leptin expression and release from human adipocytes in culture, respectively.

Thus, puberty represents a turning point in the sexual dimorphic relationships between the HPG axis and leptin by determining the steroid milieu that leads to a different regulation of leptin secretion in the sexes.

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