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Apoptosis, a physiological process for the controlled deletion of cells, is critical for the regulation of cell numbers, the management of morphogenesis during embryonic development, and the orchestration of many cellular processes in the adult. Spermatogenesis, the production of functional spermatozoa from spermatogonial stem cells, is no exception. It appears that a functional apoptotic pathway is necessary for normal spermatogenesis to develop, and without it infertility ensues. Apoptosis also plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the testis and its response to external toxicants, as well as in the programmed senescence of terminally differentiated spermatozoa. This chapter focuses specifically on how apoptosis affects sperm quality and function, and the implications of this process for both embryonic development and the health and well-being of the offspring.
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