The hypoxic testicle: Physiology and pathophysiology

Juan G. Reyes, Jorge G. Farias, Sebastián Henríquez-Olavarrieta, Eva Madrid, Mario Parraga, Andrea B. Zepeda, Ricardo D. Moreno

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Mammalian spermatogenesis is a complex biological process occurring in the seminiferous tubules in the testis. This process represents a delicate balance between cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. In most mammals, the testicles are kept in the scrotum 2 to 7°C below body core temperature, and the spermatogenic process proceeds with a blood and oxygen supply that is fairly independent of changes in other vascular beds in the body. Despite this apparently well-controlled local environment, pathologies such as varicocele or testicular torsion and environmental exposure to low oxygen (hypoxia) can result in changes in blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen supply along with an increased local temperature that may induce adverse effects on Leydig cell function and spermatogenesis. These conditions may lead to male subfertility or infertility. Our literature analyses and our own results suggest that conditions such as germ cell apoptosis and DNA damage are common features in hypoxia and varicocele and testicular torsion. Furthermore, oxidative damage seems to be present in these conditions during the initiation stages of germ cell damage and apoptosis. Other mechanisms like membrane-bound metalloproteinases and phospholipase A2 activation could also be part of the pathophysiological consequences of testicular hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number929285
JournalOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
StatePublished - 2012


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