A new bioluminescent imaging technology for studying oxidative stress in the testis and its impacts on fertility

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Abstract

Purpose

Excessive oxidative stress (OS) leads to cellular dysfunctions and cell death and constitutes a major cause of male infertility. However, the etiologies of increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) in male infertility is not fully understood. One major limitation is the lack of an in vivo imaging system that can be used to effectively study the impact of excessive ROS in the testis. Recently, we discovered that the hepatocellular carcinoma reporter (HCR) mice previously generated in our laboratory also expressed luciferase in the spermatids of the testis. The goal of the current study is to use the HCR mice to detect OS in the testis and to investigate the potential use of this new system in studying OS-induced male infertility.

Experimental design

Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) was performed in HCR mice that were treated with peroxy caged luciferin-1 (PCL-1), an OS reporter, to establish a new mouse model for in vivo monitoring of the OS status inside the male reproductive tract. Subsequently, the effect of acetaminophen (APAP) overdose on the OS inside the testis and male fertility were determined. Lastly, APAP was co-administered with glutathione, an antioxidant reagent, to test if the HCR mice can serve as a model for the effective and rapid assessment of the potency of individual agents in modifying the OS inside the mouse testis.

Results

The OS level in the testis in the HCR mice was readily detected by BLI. The use of this new model led to the discovery that APAP caused a sudden rise of OS in the testis and was a potent toxicant for the male reproductive system. Moreover, administration of glutathione was effective in preventing the APAP-induced elevation of OS and in ameliorating all of the OS-induced anomalies in the testis.

Conclusions

The HCR mice represent an excellent model for monitoring OS change in the mouse testis by real time BLI. APAP is a potent male reproductive toxicant and APAP-treated mice represent a valid model for OS-induced male infertility. This model can be used to study OS-induced damage in male reproductive tract and in assessing the effects of therapeutic agents on the relative levels of OS and male fertility.

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