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When does germ cell loss and fibrosis occur in patients with Klinefelter syndrome?

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STUDY QUESTION:
When does germ cell loss and fibrosis occur in patients with Klinefelter syndrome (KS)?

SUMMARY ANSWER:
In KS, germ cell loss is not observed in testicular tissue from fetuses in the second semester of pregnancy but present at a prepubertal age when the testicular architecture is still normal, while fibrosis is highly present at an adolescent age.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:
Most KS patients are azoospermic at adult age because of a massive germ cell loss. However, the timing when this germ cell loss starts is not known. It is assumed that germ cell loss increases at puberty. Therefore, testicular sperm extraction (TESE) at an adolescent age has been suggested to increase the chances of sperm retrieval at onset of spermatogenesis. However, recent data indicate that testicular biopsies from peripubertal KS patients contain only a few germ cells.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:
In this study, we give an update on fertility preservation in adolescent KS patients and evaluate whether fertility preservation would be beneficial at prepubertal age. The possibility of retrieving testicular spermatozoa by TESE was evaluated in adolescent and adult KS men. The presence of spermatogonia and the degree of fibrosis were also analysed in testicular biopsies from KS patients at different ages. The patients were divided into four age groups: foetal (n = 5), prepubertal (aged 4-7 years; n = 4), peripubertal (aged 12-16 years; n = 20) and adult (aged 18-41 years; n = 27) KS patients.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:
In peripubertal and adult KS patients, retrieval of spermatozoa was attempted by semen analysis after masturbation, vibrostimulation, electroejaculation or by TESE. MAGE-A4 immunohistochemistry was performed to evaluate the presence of germ cells in testicular biopsies from foetal, prepubertal, peripubertal and adult KS patients. Tissue morphology was evaluated by haematoxylin-periodic acid Schiff (H/PAS) staining.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:
Testicular spermatozoa were collected by TESE in 48.1% of the adult KS patients, while spermatozoa were recovered after TESE in only one peripubertal patient (5.0%). Germ cells were detectable in testicular biopsies from 21% of adult men for whom no spermatozoa could be retrieved by TESE and in 31.5% of peripubertal KS boys. Very small numbers of spermatogonia (0.03-0.06 spermatogonia/tubule) were detected in three out of four (75%) prepubertal patients. At a foetal age, the number of germ cells was similar for KS and control samples. Increased signs of fibrosis were not present at foetal and prepubertal ages, but peripubertal and adult KS patients showed high levels of fibrosis.
Tijdschrift: Human Reproduction
ISSN: 0268-1161
Issue: 6
Volume: 33
Pagina's: 1009-1022
Aantal pagina's: 14
Jaar van publicatie:2018
Trefwoorden:Klinefelter syndrome, fertility preservation, fibrosis, germ cells, infertility