Effect of normobaric hypoxia on the testis in a murine model

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Abstract

High-altitude hypoxia generates spermiogram impairment due to germinal epithelium, Leydig cells, sperm and seminal plasma alterations, but precise mechanisms involved are unknown. The objective of this work was to analyse the effect of normobaric hypoxia on the morphology of testicular interstitium and some associated molecular and hormonal factors. Twenty-four mice were exposed to normobaric hypoxia (8.1% inspired oxygen fraction) during 20 days. The effects on body weight, testicular weight, vascularisation, testosterone, HIF1-α and VEGF were analysed at different periods of exposure and compared to controls. Hypoxic mice had lower body weight than mice kept in normoxia. Testicular weight raised significantly the 1st day, but remained normal during the rest of experiment. Number of blood vessels per field and mean diameter of vessels were higher in hypoxic mice. Plasmatic and testicular testosterone raised during first 24 h of hypoxia, but decreased on the 5th day. Vascular/interstitial ratio (proportion of interstice occupied by blood vessels) duplicated at the end of the experiment. Most substantial early effects of hypoxia were testicular oedema, increase in number and diameter of blood vessels and elevation of plasmatic and testicular testosterone. Normobaric hypoxia generates similar effects to those induced by hypobaric hypoxia.

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