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Asian J Androl. 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.4103/aja.aja_12_19. [Epub ahead of print]

Autophagy is increased in cryptorchid testis resulting in abnormal spermatozoa.

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Univ Rennes, CHU Rennes, Laboratoire de Biologie de la Reproduction -CECOS, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institut de recherche en santĪ¹, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085, Rennes F-35000, France.
Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, 194223 St-Petersburg, Russia.
Univ Rennes, Biosit Platform - MRIC, Rennes 35000, France.
Univ Rennes, CHU Rennes, Department of Gynecology Obstetric and Human Reproduction, Rennes 35000, France.
Univ Rennes, CHU Rennes, Department of Cytogenetic, Irset (Institute for Environmental and Occupational Health) - UMR_S 1085, Rennes 35000, France.
Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institute for Environmental and Occupational Health) - UMR_S 1085, Rennes F-35000, France.
University of Poitiers - CHU Poitiers, STIM ERL 7003 CNRS, Poitiers 86021, France.


Autophagy is involved in spermatogenesis by regulating germ cell maturation. This catabolic process increases with hyperthermic conditions to prevent the accumulation of damaged organelles. Cryptorchidism is associated with impairment of germ cell maturation revealed by the presence of immature forms of sperm cells in ejaculates. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the status of autophagy in sperm cells from cryptorchid patients. Semen samples of cryptorchid patients and normozoospermic controls were analyzed by immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy. Autophagy proteins, autophagy-related protein 9 (ATG9) and microtubule-associated protein, 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3) were localized by immunocytochemistry on the acrosome and on the equatorial segment of sperm cells. LC3 was also detected in the midpiece of cryptorchid sperm tail. Autophagy substrate p62 protein was present in the acrosome and in the postequatorial segment of sperm in control samples, but not in the cryptorchid ones. Transmission electron microscopy revealed double-membrane-limited autophagosomes in postequatorial part of spermatozoa head and midpiece in cryptorchid samples. Partly degraded mitochondria were frequently discerned in autophagic vacuoles. In conclusion, autophagy is increased in sperm cells from patients with cryptorchid history comparatively to control. Our work provides insights into the role of autophagy in the maturation and survival of human male gametes in pathological conditions. Thus, regulating autophagy could represent a potential way to improve sperm quality in cryptorchid men.


autophagy; cryptorchidism; mitophagy; spermatozoa

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