Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

High glucose levels affect spermatogenesis: an in vitro approach

Renata S. Tavares A B * , Joana M. D. Portela A * , Maria I. Sousa A , Paula C. Mota A B , João Ramalho-Santos A C and Sandra Amaral A B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biology of Reproduction and Stem Cell Group, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), University of Coimbra, Rua Larga, Faculty of Medicine, Pólo I, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal.

B Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Coimbra, Casa Costa Alemão, Pólo II, Rua Dom Francisco Lemos, 3030-789 Coimbra, Portugal.

C Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Calçada Martim de Freitas, 3001-456 Coimbra, Portugal.

D Corresponding author. Email: scgamaral@gmail.com

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 29(7) 1369-1378 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD15475
Submitted: 14 November 2015  Accepted: 4 May 2016   Published: 6 June 2016

Abstract

Besides known factors that may cause male infertility, systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus may further exacerbate a decline in male fertility. This metabolic disease, clinically characterised by a hyperglycaemic phenotype, has devastating consequences in terms of human health, with reproductive dysfunction being one of the associated clinical complications. Nonetheless, the mechanisms responsible for such alterations are still poorly understood due to the multiplicity of factors involved in the induced pathophysiological changes. With this in mind, we focused on the main mediator of diabetes-associated alterations and performed an in vitro approach to address the effects of high glucose conditions on spermatogenesis, avoiding other confounding in vivo factors. Mouse (5 days post partum) testis fragments were cultured on agar gel stands at a gas–liquid interface with either 5, 25 or 50 mM D-glucose for 3 weeks. Stereological analysis revealed that high D-glucose levels increased Sertoli cell number (P < 0.05) and decreased tubular luminal area (P < 0.01), suggesting an impairment of this somatic cell type. Moreover, higher proliferative activity in a TM4 Sertoli cell line exposed to high D-glucose was found (P < 0.05) without compromising cell viability (P > 0.05), further suggesting altered Sertoli cell maturation. Overall, high D-glucose concentrations may lead to impairment of Sertoli cell function, which, given their significant role in spermatogenic control, may compromise male fertility.

Additional keywords: diabetes mellitus, hyperglycaemia, organ culture, Sertoli cells.


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