Aging is a major risk factor for spermatogenesis deterioration. However, the influence of age on spermatogenic stem cells and their progenitors in bulls is largely unknown. Here, we report age-related changes in undifferentiated and differentiating spermatogonia in Japanese Black cattle with nearly constant sperm output, by using spermatogonial markers. The numbers of differentiating spermatogonia and more differentiated spermatogenic cells were significantly decreased in aged bovine testes compared with those in young testes. In contrast, the number of undifferentiated spermatogonia was maintained, and their proliferative activity did not differ significantly between young and aged bovine testes. Although severe calcification was only observed to a small extent in aged testes, fewer Sertoli cells and interstitial fibrosis were observed in noncalcified testicular regions. These results suggest that, even in old bulls with nearly constant sperm output, testicular spermatogenic activity declined whereas undifferentiated spermatogonia numbers were maintained. Thus, we propose that undifferentiated spermatogonia may be resistant to age-related changes in bovine testes. Because undifferentiated spermatogonia may contain stem cell activity, our findings highlight the potential utility of undifferentiated spermatogonia as an agricultural resource to produce spermatozoa beyond the natural bovine lifetime through transplantation and in vitro spermatogenesis in future animal production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)