Follicle-Stimulating Hormone in Azoospermia in Prediction of Spermatogenic Patterns
David B. Weiss, Shoshana Gottschalk-Sabag, Zvi Zukerman, Elchanan Bar-On, Zvi Kahana
Kupat Holim Me'uhedet; and Dept. of Pathology and Cytology and Male Infertility Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem; Andrology Unit, Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson Campus), Petah Tikva; and Paper Research Consultant Institute, Jerusalem
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is considered to be the most important plasma hormone correlated with spermatogenesis. Elevated FSH plasma levels were shown to be associated with complete damage to testicular seminiferous tubule germinal epithelium. Recently, there have been conflicting reports with regard to the value of FSH plasma levels in predicting seminiferous tubule histology in the azoospermic patient and hence, as a guide for therapy in assisted reproduction using testicular sperm retrieval. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether FSH plasma levels can predict spermatogenic pattern in the testes of the azoospermic infertile patient. 69 infertile men with non-obstructive azoospermia and 18 with very severe oligospermia were studied. In all, plasma levels of testosterone, free testosterone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone were measured by enzyme immunoassay. In the azoospermic patients the seminiferous tubule spermatogenic pattern was determined in testicular aspirates obtained by multiple fine needle aspiration and categorized according to the most mature spermatogenic cell type in the aspirates: Sertoli cells only, spermatogenic maturation arrest or full spermatogenesis. There were no significant differences in plasma levels of any hormone measured except in very severely oligospermic and azoospermic patients. Both normal and elevated levels were detected in all, regardless of seminiferous tubule cytological pattern or plasma FSH in azoospermic patients. It is concluded that plasma levels of FSH can not be used as a predictive parameter, neither for the presence of spermatozoa nor for any other seminiferous tubule cytological pattern in azoospermic infertile men. They cannot serve as guides for selection of azoospermic men for trials of testicular sperm retrieval in assisted reproduction.