Caspase activity inhibition delays programmed spermatogenic cell death in vitro

Laura L. Tres, Carolina Rosselot, Abraham L. Kierszenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Programmed cell death or apoptosis was analyzed in rat Sertoli- spermatogonial cell cocultures prepared from 2-9 day old rats using time-lapse video microscopy, a cell viability fluorescence microscopy assay, immunocytochemical markers, and cell-permeable caspase inhibitory peptides with reversible and irreversible effects. We show that apoptosis can initially affect a single member of a spermatogonial cell cohort and that single non-viable spermatogonial cells can remain conjoined to viable spermatogonial cells. The integrity of the cytoskeletal F-actin network and the presence on Bcl-2 immunoreactivity are valuable markers of spermatogonial cell viability. Apoptotic bodies released into the culture medium are generally eliminated after culture medium replenishment; however, spermatogonial apoptotic cell remnants can be taken up by Sertoli cells, which are known to represent a phagocytic somatic population within the seminiferous epithelium. Cell permeable caspase-1 and caspase-4 inhibitory peptides with reversible and irreversible action were supplemented to a serum-free hormone-growth factor-supplemented medium. In the absence of the caspase inhibitory peptide, the viability of spermatogonial cells decreases gradually with time in coculture. However, the addition of caspase inhibitory peptides causes a significant accumulation of spermatogenic cells per unit surface area. Although inhibition of caspases, the executors of spermatogonial cell death, results in a substantial increase of spermatogonial cells in the cocultures, it remains to be determined what the differentiation potential of caspase-inhibited spermatogonial cell cohorts is.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-324
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Histology and Cytology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


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