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Reprod Biomed Online. 2015 Jan;30(1):14-27. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2014.09.018. Epub 2014 Oct 12.

Causes, effects and molecular mechanisms of testicular heat stress.

Author information

1
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
2
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Electronic address: agarwaa@ccf.org.

Abstract

The process of spermatogenesis is temperature-dependent and occurs optimally at temperatures slightly lower than that of the body. Adequate thermoregulation is imperative to maintain testicular temperatures at levels lower than that of the body core. Raised testicular temperature has a detrimental effect on mammalian spermatogenesis and the resultant spermatozoa. Therefore, thermoregulatory failure leading to heat stress can compromise sperm quality and increase the risk of infertility. In this paper, several different types of external and internal factors that may contribute towards testicular heat stress are reviewed. The effects of heat stress on the process of spermatogenesis, the resultant epididymal spermatozoa and on germ cells, and the consequent changes in the testis are elaborated upon. We also discuss the molecular response of germ cells to heat exposure and the possible mechanisms involved in heat-induced germ cell damage, including apoptosis, DNA damage and autophagy. Further, the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways that are involved in the intricate mechanism of germ cell apoptosis are explained. Ultimately, these complex mechanisms of apoptosis lead to germ cell death.

KEYWORDS:

germ cell apoptosis; male infertility; molecular mechanisms; risk factors; scrotal hyperthermia; sperm DNA damage

PMID:
25456164
DOI:
10.1016/j.rbmo.2014.09.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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