Immunohistochemical study of nuclear changes associated with male germ cell death and spermiogenesis

Leon M. McClusky, Sean Patrick, Irene E.J. Barnhoorn, Jacobus C. Van Dyk, Christiaan De Jager, Maria S. Bornman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In a previous study on the effects of gestational and lactational exposure of para-nonylphenol on male rats, we noted in both induced and uninduced rats, that variations in cleaved caspase-3 immunostaining patterns were associated with distinct nuclear alterations in mainly basally located germ cells (spermatogonia and preleptotene spermatocytes). These were re-analysed and compared with cleaved caspase-3-labeled germ cells in the aging human and the spermatogenically active catfish testis. In the rat testes, cytoplasmic immunostaining was progressively associated with lateral compression of the nucleus, its break up into large pieces which can contain immunostained marginated chromatin masses. The pale remnants of the nucleus continued to shrink in size concomitant with the appearance of blue-purplish stained regions in the cytoplasm similar in color to the condensed chromatin in spermatids, a condition which was TUNEL-negative. These large clumps of chromatin also eventually disappeared, giving rise to cells resembling cytoplasmic ghosts, a condition which was TUNEL-positive. By contrast, the immunolabeled nuclei of human and catfish germ cells condensed into a single mass, after which they lost immunoreactivity. To exclude the possibility that these observations could reflect alterations in Sertoli nuclei, rat testicular sections were probed with a mouse anti-human GATA-4 monoclonal (MHM) antibody. The MHM was, however, the second of two GATA-4 antibodies tested, with a goat anti-mouse polyclonal (GMP) initially used to label the rat Sertoli nuclei. GMP unexpectedly, but distinctly labeled the complete development of the acrosome in the rat testis, a fortuitous finding with utility for staging of the seminiferous epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-299
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Histology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Acrosome
  • Apoptosis
  • Cleaved caspase-3
  • GATA-4
  • Germ cells
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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