Sertoli Cell Markers




A Sertoli cell (a kind of sustentacular cell) is a 'nurse' cell of the testes which is part of a seminiferous tubule. Its main function is to nurture the developing sperm cells through the stages of spermatogenesis. It was also called the "mother cell." The cell is also responsible for establishing and maintaining the spermatogonial stem cell niche, which ensures the renewal of stem cells and the differentiation of spermatogonia into mature germ cells that progress stepwise through the long process of spermatogenesis, ending in the release of spermatozoa.




ABP (androgen-binding protein)

AMH (anti-Mullerian hormone)

  • immunohistological markers of Sertoli cell immaturity. PMID: 12151437, PMID: 12009342

  • immunoactivity occurs in Sertoli cells of the normal postnatal prepubertal testis, but it is absent in the adult testis with normal spermatogenesis. PMID: 8737044


  • a marker of immature Sertoli cells. Calretinin-selective expression in immature Sertoli cells suggests a functional relationship between calretinin expression and the degree of Sertoli cell differentiation. PMID: 15950053

Cathepsin L

  • germ cell function can be regulated by Sertoli cells. Moreover, these results suggest that germ cells may play an active role in the overall testicular protease expression. Also, we present evidence suggesting there is cross-talk between Sertoli and germ cells, since the expression of cathepsin L in each cell type is regulated by one another via either soluble factors or cell-cell contact. PMID: 9876020

CK18 (Cytokeratin 18, CK-18)

  • a differentiation marker for fetal Sertoli cells. PMID: 15597196

  • the marker for immaturity of Sertoli cells. PMID: 15950053

  • known to be expressed in Sertoli cells during prenatal and prepubertal differentiation and is normally lost at puberty. PMID: 10875862

  • the marker for immaturity of Sertoli cells. PMID: 15950053


  • immunoactivity occurs in Sertoli cells of the normal postnatal prepubertal testis. Furthermore, cytokeratin expression was found in Sertoli cells of tubules showing spermatogenic arrest at the level of spermatogonia and in some SCO tubules. PMID: 8737044

  • The expression of cytokeratin in developing Sertoli cells, although only transient, supports the epithelial origin of these cells and can be applied as a marker for embryonic and early postnatal Sertoli cells. PMID: 2427374


  • the major protein produced by rat Sertoli cells and is deposited onto sperm membranes. PMID: 9203053

  • rat clusterin is identical to a Sertoli cell glycoprotein previously designated sulfated glycoprotein-2. PMID: 3415696

Cyclic Potein-2 (CP-2)

  • a secretory product of rat Sertoli cells, is the proenzyme form of cathepsin L. PMID: 1791830

  • synthesized in a stage-specific manner by mature rat Sertoli cells within stage VI and VII seminiferous tubules. PMID: 2393690

  • a product of Sertoli cells was confirmed by immunohistochemical analysis. PMID: 2774415

  • a small hydrophobic glycoprotein secreted in vivo and in vitro in a stage-specific manner by Sertoli cells. PMID: 3790673

Dhh (Desert hedgehog)

  • a cell-signaling molecule that was first discovered in DROSOPHILA, is a gene crucial for normal Sertoli cell function. PMID: 12223418, PMID: 11673255

  • a signaling molecule and an Hh homologue expressed in Sertoli cells of the testis. PMID: 11717126, PMID: 11090455

  • Dhh expression in pre-Sertoli cells is one of the earliest indications of male sexual differentiation. Analysis of a null mutant demonstrates that Dhh signaling plays an essential role in the regulation of mammalian spermatogenesis. PMID: 8805249


  • found in immature intratubular Sertoli cells between weeks 11 and 14. In adult cryptorchid testes and in peritumour tubules, desmin was also prominently present in Sertoli cells in the vast majority of the cases investigated, as well as vimentin and cytokeratin co-expression. PMID: 8624579


  • expressed prevalently in Sertoli cells, has been considered to be one of the central mechanisms in testis immunological homeostasis. PMID: 17167783

  • FasL expression in rat testis is present from the early postnatal days up to the adult, and the Sertoli cells is the main FasL expressing cell within the seminiferous tubule. PMID: 15379972


  • exclusively expressed in Sertoli cells at specific seminiferous tubule stages. PMID: 14681544


  • specific for fetal Sertoli cells in the seminiferous cords. PMID: 17310077

  • a specific marker for Sertoli cell nuclei in cattle. Staining for GATA-4 was a useful method for identifying and quantifying Sertoli cell nuclei in both pre- and postpubertal bulls. PMID: 16100066

  • expressed in Sertoli cells, steroidogenic Leydig cells, and other testicular somatic cells, plays an integral role in the development of testicular steroidogenic cells. PMID: 17096405

  • GATA-4 expression is kept at a constant level in mouse Sertoli cells during postnatal development, and is also maintained at a constant level in primary cultures, independent of treatment with hormones or the addition of germ cell fractions. These results suggest that GATA-4 plays an important role in the regulation of Sertoli cell function, and is exactly regulated in these cells. PMID: 15062549

  • abundantly expressed by Sertoli cells throughout fetal and prepubertal stages of development and specifically stained both type A and B Sertoli cell nuclei in the sexually mature boar. PMID: 11159374

Inhibin B

  • a heterodimeric glycoprotein produced by Sertoli cells. PMID: 16582411

  • produced by Sertoli cells may be an important marker of seminiferous tubule function in patients treated with chemotherapy (CT). PMID: 15270406


  • immunohistological markers of Sertoli cell immaturity. PMID: 12151437

  • the antigen defined by M2A was a marker of immature Sertoli cells. This marker may be useful for studying the factors which influence Sertoli cell maturation during development of the testis. PMID: 2687179

MIS (Mullerian inhibiting substance)

Serotonin Receptor

  • Sertoli cell marker serotonin receptor mRNA is expressed in Sertoli cells from 20-day, 6-mo, and 24-mo normal testes but not in those from 24-mo regressed testes. PMID: 11133664, PMID: 10579341

SCF (stem cell factor)

  • a substance produced by isolated rat Sertoli cells in culture, is a Sertoli cell specific marker. PMID: 369842, PMID: 12514093

  • a ligand produced by Sertoli cells. PMID: 10901444

  • a Sertoli cell-produced paracrine regulator and acts as a survival factor for spermatogonia in the adult rat seminiferous epithelium in a stage-specific manner. PMID: 10067878, PMID: 9873014


  • a transcription factor involved in Sertoli cell differentiation in the testis. PMID: 17197889

  • plays an essential role in Sertoli cell differentiation, downstream of Sry, as in the testis. PMID: 15084848

  • a nuclear transcription factor, is preferentially expressed in Sertoli cells and is a useful marker in identifying Sertoli cells in heterotopic transplants in a manner similar to insulin as a marker for pancreatic islets. PMID: 12428738

  • distinctly present in the developing and mature Sertoli cells, but that its presence and amount is dependent on the age and the spermatogenetic stage within the seminiferous tubuli, also may have a pivotal role in germ cell differentiation. PMID: 10664067

Sulfated Glycoprotein-1 (SGP-1)

  • a major polypeptide secreted by rat Sertoli cells. PMID: 8573994

  • one of the abundant proteins secreted by rat Sertoli cells. PMID: 3048385

Sulfated Gycoprotein-2 (SGP-2)

  • the major protein secreted by rat Sertoli cells. PMID: 3651384, PMID: 3801415

  • a 73-kDa highly glycosylated disulfide-linked heterodimer. It is a major secreted protein of Sertoli cells, is found in high abundance within the seminiferous tubule fluid (STF) and epididymal fluid (EPF), and can be found on the surface of spermatozoa. PMID: 8167239


  • the increase in transferrin biosynthesis by rat Sertoli cells during testicular development is not due to an increase in the amount of transferrin mRNA or an increase in its half-life, but appears to be due to an increase in translation rate of the transferrin mRNA. PMID: 9291466

  • appears as early as the 13th day of gestation in migrating primordial germ cells before Sertoli cell differentiation. PMID: 8020066

  • Sertoli cells in vivo are most likely not actively engaged in the synthesis of a testicular transferrin but, instead, rely mainly on plasma transferrin contributed by the liver. In vitro, Sertoli cells, released from the physiological constraints that operate in vivo, rapidly activate the transferrin gene, resulting in abundant newly synthesized Sertoli cell transferrin product. PMID: 2430279


  • The intermediate filament of mature human Sertoli cells. PMID: 8624579

  • expressed regularly in Sertoli cells independent of spermatogenic impairment or the state of Sertoli cell differentiation. PMID: 8737044

WT1 (Wilms' Tumor suppressor 1, WT-1)

  • essential at multiple steps in testicular development. PMID: 16877546

  • detected in Sertoli cells of the adult murine testis. PMID: 16467207

  • In normal tissues, WT1 expression was noted in kidneys, splenic capsule, Sertoli cells of the testis, and granulosa cells of the ovary. PMID: 16263157

  • play pivotal roles in mammalian gonadal development and sexual differentiation. In human embryos, WT1 are expressed when the indifferent gonadal ridge first forms at 32 days post-ovulation. PMID: 10495282

Other Sertoli Cell Markers

  • Sertoli cells were identified using Nile Red staining of intracellular lipid droplets (a marker for Sertoli cells); spermatogonia are Nile Red-negative. PMID: 2249646

  • the detection of lipid droplets by oil red O (ORO) staining was a practical method to evaluate the phagocytic functions of Sertoli cells in vitro. This approach could also be considered as an in vitro model to study the lipid formation, metabolism, and function in Sertoli cells. PMID: 16940289