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Quantification of the Leydig cell compartment in testicular biopsies and association with biochemical Leydig cell dysfunction in testicular cancer survivors

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A simple histological method to evaluate the Leydig cell compartment is lacking. We aimed to establish such a method and to investigate if Leydig cell hyperplasia of the biopsy contralateral to the tumour-bearing testicle in patients with testicular germ cell cancer is associated with biochemical signs of Leydig cell dysfunction after long-term follow-up. A case group of 50 long-term testicular germ cell cancer survivors without human chorionic gonadotropin elevation, 10 testicular germ cell cancer patients with elevated human chorionic gonadotropin and 10 controls without testicular malignancy were included. For each subject, 2-4 representative sections from their testicular biopsies were selected for analysis. Using the image processing program ImageJ (V.1.48, NIH), an area with a minimum of 50 tubules was selected and delineated (total selected area) and the total Leydig cell area was calculated by adding up every delineated Leydig cell group within the total selected area. Four different methods were tested for the ability to quantify the Leydig cell compartment. In the 50 testicular germ cell cancer survivors, associations between the area of the Leydig cell compartment and serum levels of testosterone and luteinising hormone were investigated using linear regression analysis. The Leydig cell compartment was best quantified by the total Leydig cell area/total selected area index, which was significantly larger in the human chorionic gonadotropin-positive patients than in controls (P = 0.00001). In the 50 human chorionic gonadotropin-negative testicular germ cell cancer survivors, increasing total Leydig cell area/total selected area was significantly associated with decreased levels of total testosterone and decreased total testosterone/luteinising hormone ratio after a median of 9-year follow-up. In conclusion, a new simple method, total Leydig cell area/total selected area, was established to estimate the Leydig cell compartment in testicular biopsies. The index identified Leydig cell hyperplasia in the contralateral biopsy in patients with testicular germ cell cancer, and it was associated with long-term biochemical Leydig cell dysfunction. Although in testicular germ cell cancer survivors, the clinical value is limited because the contralateral biopsies are not commonly available, we propose a closer andrological follow-up in any patient with an increased total Leydig cell area/total selected area index.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAndrology
Volume6
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)748-755
Number of pages8
ISSN2047-2919
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

ID: 55865610