Skip to main content

Sertoli, Enrico


(b. Sondrio, Italy, 6 June 1842; d. Sondrio, 28 January 1910) physiology, histology.

Sertoli studied medicine at the University of Pavia, where, with Giulio Bizzozero and Camillo Golgi, he was a pupil of the physiologist Eusebio Oehl, who systematically developed studies in microscopic anatomy and histology at Pavia. After graduating in 1865, Sertoli moved to Vienna to study physiology under Brücke; but he returned to Italy the following year to take part in the campaign against Austria. After the war, he went to Tübingen in 1867 to work in Hoppe-Seyler’s laboratory there.

From 1870 to 1907 Sertoli was professor of anatomy and physiology, and after 1907 of physiology only, at the Advanced Royal School of Veterinary Medicine in Milan, which, at that time, enjoyed university status. There he founded the Laboratory of Experimental Physiology.

Sertoli was an outstanding exponent of microscopic anatomy. In his first scientific work (1865) he identified and described the branched cells in the seminiferous tubules of the human testicle,which are still known as sertoli cells. This research, carried out under Oehl’s direction at the Pavia institute of physiology, was the starting point for investigation; Sertoli later studied the structure of the testicle and spermatogenesis.

With Hoppe-Seyler, Sertoli reported (1867) on the importance of the blood proteins, and especially of the globulins, as mediators of alkalies in the alternating process of fixation and clearance of carbon dioxide; they discovered that this process is carried out in the capillary beds of the greater and lesser circulation, respectively. Sertoli’s findings in this field were subsequently confirmed by Zuntz and Otto Loewi.

In Milan, Sertoli studied (1882–1883) the persistent excitability and extreme sensitivity to thermal stimuli of the smooth muscles. He is also credited with the first leiomyogram, which he obtained by using the retractor muscle of the penis, which was particularly suitable for the purpose because of its length, uniformity, and parallel fibrocells.


I. Original Works. A list of Sertoli’s publications is given in Pugliese (see below). His major works include “Dell’esistenza di particolari cellule ramificate nei canalicoli seminiferi del testicolo umano,” in Morgagni, 7 (1865), 31–40, with one plate; “Ueber die Bindung der Kohlensäure im Blute und ihre Ausscheidung in der Lunge,” in Medicinsch-chemische Untersuchungen, 2 (1867), 350–365; and in Zentralblatt für die medizinischen Wissenschaften, 6 (1868), 145–147; “Osservazioni sulla struttura dei canalicoli seminiferi del testicolo,” in Gazzetta medica lombarda, 4 d.s. 6 (1871), 413–415; “Sulla struttura dei canalicoli seminiferi del testicolo studiata in rapporto allo sviluppo dei nemaspermi,” ibid., 2 d.s. 7 (1875), 401–403; “Di un pseudo-ermafrodismo in una capra,” in Archivio di medicina veterinaria, 1 (1876), 22–33, written with G. Generali; “Sulla struttura dei canalicoli seminiferi dei testicoli studiata in rapport allo sviluppo dei nemaspermi,” in Archivio per le scienze mediche, 2 (1878), 107–146, 267–295, and plates 3–4; “Contribuzioni alla fisiologia generale dei muscoli lisci,” in Rendiconti dell’lstituto lombardo di scienze e lettere, 15 (1882). 567–582; “Contribution à la physiologie gènèral des muscles lisses,” in Archives italiennes de biologie, 3 (1883), 78–94; “Della cariocinesi nella spermatogenesi,” in Rendiconti dell’lstituto lombardo di scienze e lettere, 18 (1885), 833–839; and “Sur la caryoknèse dans la spermatogénèse,” in Archives italinnes de biologie, 7 (1886), 369–375.

II. Secondary Literature. On Sertoli and his work, see L. Belloni, “Enrico Sertoli in la medicina a Milano dal settecento al 1915,” in Storia di Milano. Fondazione Treccani degli Alfieri, 6 (1962), 1028; A Pugliese, “Henri Sertoli,” in Archives italiennes de biologie, 53 (1910), 161–164; and F. Usuelli, “Enrico Sertoli (1842–1910);” in Annuario veterinario italiano (1934–1935), 455–461.

Bruno Zanobio

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sertoli, Enrico." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . 17 Sep. 2019 <>.

"Sertoli, Enrico." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . (September 17, 2019).

"Sertoli, Enrico." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved September 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.