Overexpression of catalase in mice reduces age-related oxidative stress and maintains sperm production

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Advanced paternal age is associated with increased complications in pregnancy and genetic diseases in offspring. Oxidative stress is a major contributor to the damage accumulated in sperm during aging. Complex networks of antioxidants regulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the testis. While mounting evident shows that redox dysfunction compromises the quality of developing male germ cells, the mechanisms by which aging causes this remain unclear. Furthermore, therapies to successfully alleviate aging-associated loss in germ cell quality are limited. The antioxidant catalase (CAT) has been used in aging-associated pathologies to alleviate oxidative stress. We used mice overexpressing CAT (MCAT) to determine whether CAT overexpression alleviates the redox dysfunction observed with aging. We found that MCAT mice did not exhibit the age-dependent loss of spermatozoa, nor did they show aging associated loss in testicular germ and Sertoli cells seen in wild type (WT). Low overall ROS and reduced peroxynitrite levels were detected in spermatocytes from aged MCAT mice, following exposure to the pro-oxidant tert-butyl hydroperoxide. Germ cells from young MCATs showed elevated levels of DNA-damage repair markers, γ-H2AX and 53BP1, but this response was lost with aging. Finally, we found oxidative stress induced 8-oxodG lesions to increase in sperm with aging; these lesions were significantly reduced in aged MCAT and these mice showed no decrease in the age-dependent number of pups per litter. Thus we conclude that aged MCAT mice generate sperm at the same rate as young mice; these sperm are protected from oxidative stress associated damage.

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