Browsing by Author "Wikström, Anne"

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  • Wikström, Anne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is the most frequent karyotype disorder of male reproductive function. Since its original clinical description in 1942 and the identification of its chromosomal basis 47,XXY in 1959, the typical KS phenotype has become well recognized, but the mechanisms behind the testicular degeneration process have remained unrevealed. This prospective study was undertaken to increase knowledge about testicular function in adolescent KS boys. It comprised a longitudinal follow-up of growth, pubertal development, and serum reproductive hormone levels in 14 prepubertal and pubertal KS boys. Each boy had a testicular biopsy that was analyzed with histomorphometric and immunohistochemical methods. The KS boys had sufficient testosterone levels to allow normal onset and progression of puberty. Their serum testosterone levels remained within the low-normal range throughout puberty, but from midpuberty onwards, findings like a leveling-off in testosterone and insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) concentrations, high gonadotropin levels, and exaggerated responses to gonadotropin-releasing hormone stimulation suggest diminished testosterone secretion. We also showed that the Leydig cell differentiation marker INSL3 may serve as a novel marker for onset and normal progression of puberty in boys. In the KS boys the number of germ cells was already markedly lower at the onset of puberty. The pubertal activation of the pituitary-testicular axis accelerated germ cell depletion, and germ cell differentiation was at least partly blocked at the spermatogonium or early primary spermatocyte stages. The presence of germ cells correlated with serum reproductive hormone levels. The immature Sertoli cells were incapable of transforming to the adult type, and during puberty the degeneration of Sertoli cells increased markedly. The older KS boys displayed an evident Leydig cell hyperplasia, as well as fibrosis and hyalinization of the interstitium and peritubular connective tissue. Altered immunoexpression of the androgen receptor (AR) suggested that in KS boys during puberty a relative androgen deficiency develops at testicular level. The impact of genetic features of the supernumerary X chromosome on the KS phenotype was also studied. The present study suggests that parental origin of the supernumerary X chromosome and the length of the CAG repeat of the AR gene influence pubertal development and testicular degeneration. The current study characterized by several means the testicular degeneration process in the testes of adolescent KS boys and confirmed that this process accelerates at the onset of puberty. Although serum reproductive hormone levels indicated no hypogonadism during early puberty, the histological analyses showed an already markedly reduced fertility potential in prepubertal KS boys. Genetic features of the X chromosome affect the KS phenotype.