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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Sertoli cell-only syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Germinal cell aplasia
  • Del Castillo syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

How common is Sertoli cell-only syndrome? Are there any studies regarding this condition? I was diagnosed recently and I can't find much information about it.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Sertoli cell-only syndrome?

Sertoli cell-only syndrome (SCO syndrome) is a condition of the testes that causes infertility in males due to having only Sertoli cells (cells that nurture immature sperm) lining the seminiferous tubules (tubes inside the testicles where sperm develop). Men typically learn they are affected between ages 20-40 when being evaluated for infertility and are found to have no sperm production (azoospermia). The diagnosis is made based on testicular biopsy findings. Other signs and symptoms are rare, but are secondary to the underlying condition causing SCO syndrome. Most cases are idiopathic (of unknown cause), but causes may include deletions in the azoospermia factor (AZF) region of the Y chromosome, or Y-chromosome microdeletions (referred to as Y chromosome infertility); Klinefelter syndrome; exposure to chemicals and toxins; history of radiation therapy; and history of severe trauma. There is not currently a known effective treatment for the condition.[1] When no germ cells are visible in any seminiferous tubules it is considered SCO type I; if germ cells are present in a minority of tubules is it considered SCO type II.[2]
Last updated: 2/18/2011

Are there any research studies or clinical trials on Sertoli cell-only syndrome?

Individuals can find relevant articles on Sertoli cell-only syndrome through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. Using "Sertoli cell only syndrome" as your search term should help you locate articles. Use the "Limits" or "Advanced Search" features to narrow your search results. Click here to view a search:

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.

The National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Studies involving Sertoli cell-only syndrome may not be listed at a particular time, but the site should be checked often for updates. To search for a study, use "Sertoli cell only" as your search term.

Individuals can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (PRPL)
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 1-800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
Web site:

If you are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can find helpful general information on clinical trials at the following Web page:

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed on the Web site of the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Last updated: 5/31/2011

How common is Sertoli cell-only syndrome?

The prevalence of Sertoli cell-only (SCO) syndrome in the overall population is estimated to be low. Approximately 10% of couples in the United States are affected by infertility; of these couples, approximately 30% have a pure male factor as the underlying cause, and another 20% have a combined male and female factor. Although precise figures are difficult to obtain, it is estimated that less than 5%-10% of these infertile men have SCO syndrome.[1] Information is limited due to the nature of the condition, as only men who have been thoroughly evaluated for infertility (including a testicular biopsy, which is necessary for the diagnosis) have been reported.
Last updated: 2/18/2011

Other Names for this Disease
  • Germinal cell aplasia
  • Del Castillo syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.