Key Difference – Leydig Cells vs Sertoli Cells
In the context of male gametogenesis, Leydig cells and Sertoli cells play an important role. They assist the functioning of the male reproductive system and thereby helps the formation of male gametes, the sperms, by the process spermatogenesis. Leydig cells are present between the seminiferous tubules whilst the Sertoli cells are present between the germinal epithelium of the seminiferous tubules. The Leydig cells are round in shape and present as small groups within a shorter distance to each other in contrast, Sertoli cells are tall and elongated and present as single cells which are tightly packed. This is the key difference between Leydig cells and Sertoli cells.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Leydig Cells
3. What are Sertoli Cells
4. Similarities Between Leydig Cells and Sertoli Cells
5. Side by Side Comparison –Leydig Cells vs Sertoli Cells in Tabular Form
What are Leydig Cells?
Leydig cells can be found next to the seminiferous tubules in testicles. They can be also called as interstitial cells of Leydig. The function of these cells is to produce the hormone testosterone with the aid of luteinizing hormone. They take the shape of a polyhedral and a large nucleus is present eccentrically. About one to three nucleoli and numerous heterochromatin which are stained in a darker color are present in the nucleus.
The cytoplasm of the Leydig cells consists of many smooth endoplasmic reticula, membrane-bound lipid droplets, and a few mitochondria. In addition to these, a pigment called lipofuscin, and crystal-like structures called as Reinke crystals are also present in these cells. Mature Leydig cells are differentiated in testis during the postpartum period and remain inactive until puberty. In fetal Leydig cells, a sufficient amount of testosterone is produced in a male fetus between gestation periods of eighth to the twentieth week. A class of hormones called as androgens are released by the Leydig cells. With the stimulation of a pituitary hormone the luteinizing hormone, these androgens secrete few hormones such as testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione. Here, the testosterone is synthesized and released from the Leydig cells because the cholesterol demolishes activity is increased by the Luteinizing hormone.
There are few diseases which are caused in Leydig cells. Leydig cell tumors and adrenomyeloneuropathy are few examples. Leydig cell tumors are formed because Leydig cells are grown abnormally and uncontrollably. These are active hormonally thus, produce excess testosterone. Adrenomyeloneuropathy is a disease caused by the affected Leydig cells. Here, the level of testosterone is reduced lower than the normal level due to higher levels of Luteinizing hormone and Follicle stimulating hormone. Also, in addition, the destruction of Leydig cells is also caused due to lateral electrical surface stimulation therapy.
What are Sertoli Cells?
Spermatogenesis is a process by which sperms, the male gametes, are produced in the testis. It takes place in the seminiferous tubules of the testis. The seminiferous tubules are complex structures that are lined by a stratified epithelium with the presence of two different types of cells; spermatogenic cells and Sertoli cells. Spermatogenic cells give rise to spermatozoa through different development stages whilst Sertoli cells involve in providing nutrients and support to the seminiferous tubules.
Sertoli cells are derived from the epithelial cords of the developing gonads. They are avascular cells. These cells are tall and columnar in structure and are present in from the basement membrane up to the lumen. They involve in forming pockets around differentiating and proliferating germ cells. Sertoli cells provide nutrients to these cells and involve in a phagocytic action in order to remove excess cytoplasm of the spermatids which is not necessary for developing spermatozoa. Tight junctions connect Sertoli cells together which seal the tubule into two compartments; the basal compartment, which is close to the basal lamina and adluminal compartment, which is closer towards the lumen. This creates the blood-testis barrier which prevents the passing of larger molecules between the two compartments.
This barrier created by the Sertoli cells involves in differentiating different cell stages of spermatogenesis from blood which includes developing spermatogonia, spermatocytes, spermatids and mature sperms. Sertoli cells involve in the production of testicular fluids. This is essential in the development process of spermatozoa since the fluid consist of protein; ABP (androgen binding protein) which binds and concentrates testosterone. It also has the function of secreting a hormone, inhibin, which inhibits the release of FSH and controls the rate of spermatogenesis.
What is the Similarity Between Leydig Cells and Sertoli Cells?
- Both types of cells assist in the functioning of seminiferous tubules and the spermatogenesis process.
What is the Difference Between Leydig Cells and Sertoli Cells?
Leydig Cells vs Sertoli Cells
|Leydig cells are the cells which produce testosterone in the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH)||
Sertoli cells are the somatic cells of the testis that are essential for testis formation and spermatogenesis
|Present between the seminiferous tubules.||Present between the germinal epithelium of the seminiferous tubules.|
|Types of cells|
|The cells are round in shape and found in small groups.||Cells are tall and elongated and occur as single cells tightly packed.|
|Involve in producing testosterone.||Provide support and nutrients to the seminiferous tubules and produce testicular fluids with ABP.|
Summary – Leydig Cells vs Sertoli Cells
Leydig cells and Sertoli cells are two important cell components present in the seminiferous tubules of the testis of male reproductive system. Both cells actively involved in the process of spermatogenesis. Leydig cells are present between the seminiferous tubules. The function of these cells is to produce the hormone testosterone with the aid of luteinizing hormone. They are round in shape and occur as groups. Leydig cell tumors are formed because Leydig cells are grown abnormally and uncontrollably. Sertoli cells are tall, elongated cells that occur as single cells and involve in supporting and providing adequate nutrients to the seminiferous tubules for its proper functioning. They are found in-between the germinal epithelium of the seminiferous tubules. This can be elaborated as the difference between Leydig cells and Sertoli cells.
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1.Haider, Syed G. “Cell Biology of Leydig Cells in the Testis.” International Review of Cytology, 2004, pp. 181–241., doi:10.1016/s0074-7696(04)33005-6.
2.Griswold, Michael D. “The central role of Sertoli cells in spermatogenesis.” Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, vol. 9, no. 4, 1998, pp. 411–416., doi:10.1006/scdb.1998.0203.
1.’Leydig cells – very high mag’By Nephron – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.’Sertoli cell nodule intermed mag’By Nephron – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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