Sertoli cell


noun, plural: Sertoli cells

Any of the elongated cells located in the seminiferous tubules of the testis, and whose main function is to nourish the spermatids attached to it.


The functions of Sertoli cells are vital during spermatogenesis. They nurture the developing spermatids by providing structural and metabolic support. They secrete androgen-binding protein that concentrates testosterone in close proximity to the developing germ cells, and establish the blood-testis barrier by forming tight junctions with adjacent Sertoli cells, which is important in maintaining an environment necessary for development and maturation. Hence, they are also referred to as the nurse cells. They also phagocytose the residual cytoplasm during spermiogenesis. And when the mature spermatids are released (at spermiation), the Sertoli cells secrete testicular fluid to aid the non-motile spermatids for their transport to the epididymis where they develop into mature, motile spermatozoa.

Word origin: Named after Enrico Sertoli, the Italian histologist who first described these cells in 1865.

Also called: nurse cell

See also: spermiation

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